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Rumor of Illegal Race Track Construction Unfounded

POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Rumors that a Pound Ridge property owner was planning to build a motocross race track on residential property prompted outrage from residents who descended on Thursday night’s Planning Board meeting ready to express their displeasure. The only problem was  the rumors were unfounded.

James Paradise, who owns the parcel in question at 94 Salem Road, was called before the Planning Board to discuss the restoration of the disturbance he made to the steep slope areas of the property. He had begun work there earlier this year, using a backhoe to remove rocks and create a trail, which incited the rumors that a commercial race track was being constructed.

“It all started with a phone call I received from an adjacent property owner,” said Pound Ridge Building Inspector Jim Perry. “They told me they heard heavy equipment and we were told Mr. Paradise was creating tracks for motorcycles and snowmobiles.”

Perry said he went to the property and discovered that an access way had been cut through adjacent land and the Paradise had used a backhoe to create an eight-foot-wide, 1,000-foot long track. He said no trees had been taken down. Perry said he issued Paradise a stop-work order.

An application for the restoration of the property is now before the Planning Board. Paradise is being represented by engineer Barry Naderman, who owns Naderman Land Planning and Engineering in Jefferson Valley.

Naderman told the board that work has already begun to restore the property.

“I saw the work that was done [by Paradise],” Naderman said. “I then called for silt fences to be installed to make sure no sedimentation goes down slope.”

Part of the complaint against Paradise is that he accessed his property through a neighboring lot where a cell tower is situated.

“We talked to the owner of the cell tower and were told not to access their property ever again,” Naderman said.

Naderman said that Paradise's plan is to build a house or create a two-lot subdivision for the property, not construct a race track, but that the problem is the lot is landlocked. He said a driveway needs to be built to get to it.

“The only legal access is through a lot with wetlands and across some steep slopes,” he told the board. “You (the board) have to go out and see what we are talking about. The only way is to cut a driveway across those slopes.”

Paradise asked the board for permission to address the crowded meeting room and Board Chairman Clay Fowler granted it, but warned the audience that it was not a public hearing and they would not be given the opportunity to respond.

“This is a violation that we are here to correct and it is between the town and the applicant,” Fowler said. “There are more people here tonight than come out for a Pound Ridge election.”

Paradise apologized to those in attendance and said he couldn’t understand how the motocross track rumors got started.

“I’m sorry you are all here tonight,” he said. “Someone in the neighborhood was overly concerned. I groomed certain areas [of the property] with rocks sticking up to make trails for personal use – horse riding, motorcycle riding, and snowmobile riding. It is residential property and impossible to have a commercial race track there. The intent was to access the property for a home site – not a race track.”

Paradise said he didn’t think the changes to the property were “significant,” but Fowler told him, “We will be the judge of that.”

Naderman told the board that the reality of the situation is that Paradise has rights to access his property.

“The good news is that since we began the initial stabilization there have been some significant storms and things are still looking pretty good,” he said.

Perry said wetland studies of the property have been completed along with the required mapping. The board will walk the property next week to determine what steps need to be taken next.

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