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Neighbors of NHMS appeal concert decision to N.H. Supreme Court 

  • Crowds disperse at the conclusion of a race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon in 2017. Neighbors of the racetrack who hope to prevent the facility from hosting a summer music festival are taking their case to the state’s Supreme Court. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor file



Monitor staff
Monday, August 06, 2018

A group of neighbors who want to prevent concerts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway aren’t going away quietly.

Arnold Alpert, Judith Elliot and James Snyder, all of Canterbury, are taking their case to the state’s Supreme Court by appealing a judge’s decision to allow the speedway to hold a three-day country music festival.

The lingering lawsuit has already scuttled the speedway’s plan to hold a festival this summer, even as track officials are trying to hit the gas on next year’s concert plans.

“We didn’t make an agreement with a piece of land, we made an agreement with a business,” Snyder said. “We think the superior court got it wrong.”

The debate over whether the speedway should be able to hold concerts dates back to a 1989 settlement, made between the speedway, the town of Loudon and eight “concerned racetrack neighbors” – including Alpert, Elliot and Snyder.

The 1989 settlement states that the speedway “shall not permit any musical concerts of any type or description to be held on the premises currently known as New Hampshire International Speedway except in conjunction with racing events.” It was made after Bob Bahre purchased the speedway, formerly Bryar Motorsports Park, with the intention of expanding it into a multipurpose track in 1988.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway argues that the word “currently” in the agreement indicates that document applied only to the racetrack that was proposed at that time and not to the lots on the southern end of the property, acquired by the speedway later in 1995, where the concerts are expected to be held.

“The use of ‘currently known as’ ties the definition of ‘premises’ to a specific point in time,” McNamara wrote in his decision, agreeing with the speedway.

But the neighbors of the speedway argue that the agreement had a broader reach, applying not just to the land that was present at the time, but the company as a whole.

“They narrowly interpreted the agreement from 1989 as applying only to the specific metes and bounds of what was included in the business then,” Snyder said. “That the business changed hands and changed names doesn’t theoretically affect the agreement.”

Snyder said that though the group was represented by attorney Steven Gordon of Shaheen & Gordon at the superior court, he, Elliot and Alpert will be representing themselves at the Supreme Court. Briefs are expected to be filed at the court by both parties in September.

The country music festival at New Hampshire Motor Speedway would be promoted by Live Nation, a global entertainment company headquartered in Beverly Hills, Calif. The speedway estimates it would bring in 20,000 visitors in August 2019.

In a request to expedite the process in the court, the speedway asked that a decision be made by February at the latest so the company would have enough time to prepare if the music festival were approved.

“In order for Live Nation to schedule top-flight performers for the concert in the summer of 2019, a significant lead time of less than six months is required,” NHMS attorney Bill Glahn wrote.

(Leah Willingham can be reached at 369-3322 or lwillingham@cmonitor.com)