Horsham Zoners Deny Go Kart Facility

The zoning hearing board backed Horsham Township in its stance that Speed Raceway’s application is not a permissible use at the former Walmart site.

The shuttered Walmart on Blair Mill Road in Horsham will remain closed at least a while longer. 

The former anchor of the Village Mall had been the site of choice for a as proposed by locals involved with the Speed Raceway indoor electric go kart racing franchise. But, on Tuesday, the Horsham zoning hearing board voted unanimously to deny the application “in its entirety.”

Following the decision, Travis Thompson, one of a half dozen partners who had planned to finance the project, said he was not sure if an appeal of the board’s decision would be filed. Thompson, who was present at the meeting, said he needed to sit down this week with the partners and evaluate it.

"We’re disappointed. We’re local guys," said Thompson, president of Ivyland-based Suburban Marble and Granite. "We thought this would be a great use for the space."

Thompson said he and his partners have opened a location in Denver and plan to open seven total sites within the next five years. Thompson said three other locations are in development. And, when Speed Raceway began to face resistance from Horsham officials, Thompson said his team started looking at another site in Montgomery County. The other two prospective locations are in New Jersey, he said. 

Township officials have said that the as proposed by Speed Raceway is not allowed under the shopping plaza’s zoning and suggested that the facility would fit better and would be permitted to operate in the township’s industrial or general commercial districts.

Speed Raceway representatives, including Thompson, disagreed and appealed the township zoning officer's May 1 decision to the zoning hearing board. Tuesday's ruling by the zoning hearing board, in essence, backed that earlier decision. 


Tara August 10, 2011 at 10:33 AM
If you didn't attend the meetings, ask questions, express your opinion, and hear ALL the details so easy to blame our Township officials. I know I personally wouldn't want my Township changing zoning whenever someone asked. That sight as more then just the township to deal with...Wal*Mart apparently is very choosy in who they will even consider to sell too, from what I am told.
Scott Johnson August 10, 2011 at 12:04 PM
Walt*Mart still owns the site? I'm sure what they want is not to have any competition, therefore I'm sure a raceway wouldn't bug them much. Good luck getting any big store to come in if it has to get through Wal*Mart. They pretty much want to keep any competitors away.
dave August 10, 2011 at 12:32 PM
Travis, if you read this check the TYCO building in Willow Grove on Maryland Rd. 150,000 sq ft and has been empty for many many years. Guess they didnt pay off(contribute) to the right people.
Al Wipplinger August 10, 2011 at 12:42 PM
Good decision on Councils part. I agree. Creating a place for the kids to assemble could become a BIG problem. As I see it just another reason that our Police Department to respond to the potential disruption, fights, gatherings, etc.Summer Avenue residents are rejoicing I am sure. Al W.
Suzy Q August 10, 2011 at 01:54 PM
Well, Al, you seem to be in the minority along with Horsham council. Just because it's a go-kart facility doesn't mean only kids would go, and you shouldn't assume that the kids that WOULD go are juvenile delinquents. I know many adults who would love to have an indoor facility, myself included. What we've created, at this point, is an abandonded building for juvenile deliquents to congregate, and THAT'S what's not good.
Suzy Q August 10, 2011 at 01:57 PM
And if the Speed Raceway representatives are reading this, I also suggest that you include Bumper Cars in your facility!!!
Tara August 10, 2011 at 02:22 PM
This proposed Go Kart facility was for adults only! It was not racing for teens or kids.
Tara August 10, 2011 at 02:23 PM
This was an adults only Go-Cart facility.
Siobhra DeWar August 10, 2011 at 02:26 PM
They killed the airport. They have plans for the airport and they need to do what they can to prove they were right. To do that they need to kill every thing else in the area.
Suzy Q August 10, 2011 at 02:44 PM
The Willow Grove Airport isn't a done deal, is it? I still have hope that they make the right decision and keep that runway......with air travel growing and growing, where do they expect all the planes to land, at only ONE airport????
Craig Peters August 10, 2011 at 06:30 PM
Horrible decision. This project should have been allowed to move forward.
Suzy Q August 10, 2011 at 06:58 PM
I sure hope that someone from Horsham council is reading this. They need to get a grip on what the people want. How about a comment from someone on Horsham council??
Tara August 10, 2011 at 07:41 PM
I didn't want an airport! I'm glad it won't be one. Let Bucks County build an airport in there yard. Council didn't stop an airport from going in.
Suzy Q August 10, 2011 at 08:18 PM
I'm curious as to what you think should go there instead?
Tara August 10, 2011 at 09:04 PM
Where the old Wal*Mart? Or the Willow Grove Naval Base?
Theresa Katalinas (Editor) August 11, 2011 at 02:52 AM
Tara, The speedway was not proposed as an adults-only facility. The applicants said kids as young as 7 could drive the cars. And birthday parties have been a big draw at other franchises.
Suzy Q August 11, 2011 at 12:11 PM
The Willow Grove Naval Base.
Jennifer Delp August 11, 2011 at 09:07 PM
I agree that leaving the building empty is terrible. I realize we have zoning laws but it seems to me that if there is a possibility of bringing business into our town, we'd make it possible. The building is serving no purpose right now - why would we choose to turn down business for our local economy?
Mark August 11, 2011 at 09:36 PM
This decision appears very suspicious to me. I was present at the appeals discussion, and in my opinion, the applicant’s attorney hammered the Township’s counsel. The entire argument focused on the meaning of the words “entertainment” versus “recreation.” It was clear that the zoning ordinance was ambiguous which, according to the applicant’s attorney, meant that the decision [by law] must favor the applicant. I thought the idea of a go-kart racing facility seemed interesting and viewed the operation much like I would view a bowling alley. It’s hard to believe the decision was unanimous...which adds to my suspicion that there is something much deeper going on here.
Scott Johnson August 11, 2011 at 10:14 PM
Honestly this is one of the reasons having a council that is completely one party is a bad idea. In Hatboro while it may be ugly at times, stuff gets done and people keep each other honest. Horsham could use one or two of the other party just to raise issues and be oversight. Be it controlled by Democrats or Republicans a little variety in opinion helps a community.
Suzy Q August 12, 2011 at 01:37 PM
By the way Tara, there IS a county airport in Bucks County. It's in Doylestown.
Suzy Q August 12, 2011 at 01:37 PM
Interesting.....not good, but interesting.
Mark August 12, 2011 at 05:42 PM
I wasn't trying to suggest that the decision was influenced by politics. Instead, I'm more inclined to think it's a personal matter wherein the entire board might have voted in support of one member's strong stance...for whatever reason. I could understand the board's concern that such a usage might tend to draw a crowd of spectators, and the proposed floor plan did not include a bleacher section for such folk. No one wants the front of the facility to become a "hang-out" spot for kids with nothing else to do.
Craig Peters August 12, 2011 at 06:00 PM
@Mark: As opposed to a vacant WalMart that has become a "hang-out" spot for kids with nothing else to do?
Craig Peters August 21, 2011 at 01:44 PM
Yesterday, my son and I drove up to Allentown to do some indoor go-kart racing. I'd never been to one of these facilities before, and I have to wonder if anyone on the Horsham zoning board ever has -- having been there (and driven in three races; losing to my son twice), I am absolutely and utterly convinced that such a facility would be PERFECT for the abandoned Wal-Mart location ... unless, of course, one prefers an abandoned husk of a building over adding jobs and income to the local economy.
pat polichetti August 21, 2011 at 01:51 PM
The township would much rather have the whole Village Mall turn into the Shopping Center of the Dead. Wow, how horrible, a place for kids (and adults) to actually have a place to congregate... I guess people would rather have them roam around and attack people like in Philadelphia... but then the residents are assuming the kids that would hang there are all bad. As Craig said, they prefer the abandoned husk of buildings over adding jobs to the economy. They'd rather develop the Naval Air Station into the town center and corporate center. But they don't want any traffic. Can you really have that both ways? Or maybe just wait till the town center and corporate center look like the Village Mall does now. Wow, Horsham taxpayers, yay for you.
Santa Contarino Kelly August 21, 2011 at 07:42 PM
I can't have any input on this issue because I don't live there, but it sounds like a fun place to me.
Craig Peters August 23, 2011 at 03:25 PM
Evidently the applicant has the right to appeal the ZHB decision to the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. The court can overturn the ZHB decision. I hope they appeal and I hope the decision is overturned, as denying this facility makes no sense for the local residents and economy.
ariana matthews July 27, 2012 at 06:45 PM
I think they should allow them to use the place as a go kart faciallty. It would give the kids something to do instead of sitting around the streets getting in trouble. There is no place for them to hang out and enjoy themselves.
Theresa Katalinas (Editor) July 27, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Ariana, They have. It's supposed to be opening soon.


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