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Couple presents details of their proposed harness racing track |

Couple presents details of their proposed harness racing track

Kim Lawrence
| Saturday, January 11, 2003 12:00 a.m

A 300- to 350-feet grandstand, restaurant and bar would be among the amenities at a harness racing track proposed by a Canton couple.

Elizabeth Eelkema and Daniel Vorum want to convert their private riding track and stables off Armstrong Drive into a harness track. An architect has presented details of the plan to municipal officials.

Vorum and Eelkema are requesting an amendment to Canton’s municipal planning code to allow the center. The township has argued that a racetrack is permitted in an agricultural area, but not in a residential area such as the one where the couple’s land is located.

During a public hearing Thursday on the amendment request, architect Felix G. Fukui presented a color drawing of the proposed building.

He said the complex will include a restaurant that could serve 50 customers, bar, grandstand, and clubhouse with pari-mutuel betting booths, concession stands, judge’s booth, press room, bathrooms and parking lots.

Fukui said that there would be three levels, connected by stairs and elevators.

Eelkema and Vorum are seeking a harness racing license from the state.

Canton Zoning Officer Peter Stefansky testified that a proposed for-profit racetrack is not permitted in a residentially zoned district.

But the couple have maintained their position that a racetrack with pari-mutuel betting is not specifically named in Canton’s municipal planning code.

The couple’s attorney, Franklin Bialon, must submit his legal findings to Canton’s counsel, William Sittig, who then has 30 days to review the information and submit it along with his own research to Canton supervisors.

The supervisors will have another 30 days to review all the information before scheduling a vote on whether to approve the amendment.

Some residents who live by the site spoke out in opposition of the complex.

“This is not a family-style racetrack,” said Chuck Neff of Lacock Street. “It’s about slot machines and legalized gambling. Their numbers aren’t telling the truth. It’s going to be 700 to 800 people coming in seven days a week.”

Eelkema said she understands the concerns from residents. “We just want to be good neighbors,” she said. “We just want to create jobs.”

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