Nashua Democratic Sen. David Gottesman was the only senator representing area towns to support the bill. “The process was what I objected to,” said Gottesman, who was elected to the Senate in November.
Nashua Democratic Sen. Joseph Foster said the Legislature should be wary about undoing laws without evidence a wrong was committed.
“We made a decision last year, and when a piece of legislation does not have unintended consequences, it’s a mistake to change direction,” Foster said.
Wakefield Republican Sen. Joe Kenney, who represents the district that includes Tamworth, supported the bill and rebutted any critic who called such a vote anti-business.“I grew up in a small town, I grew up with a father who ran a restaurant, who raised five kids, and they knew the value of a dollar. Don’t Mr. Developer or anybody out there try to tell me I am anti-business,” said Kenney, his voice breaking.
Raymond Republican Sen. Jack Barnes said Club Motorsports Inc. has spent $4 million on the project, and as much as $2 million since passage of the 2004 law. “The word is, if this bill passes, that they will leave, they will sell the land and try to get their money back,” Barnes said.
Meredith Republican Sen. Carl Johnson dismissed such statements.
“I don’t think the question today is, ‘Are we going to stop the track?’ The question is local control,” Johnson said.
The New Hampshire Municipal Association was heavily involved in supporting the bill, and NHMA lobbyist Maura Carroll said the Senate vote was a “disappointment.”
After the vote, Senate President Tom Eaton, R-Keene, defended the 2004 law and his own vote to kill the bill.
“This has nothing to do with local control,” Eaton said, adding that the townspeople have voted in two town meetings on the project.
The heated rhetoric between supporters for Club Motorsports and the opposing group of activists, Focus: Tamworth, continued through Thursday.
“We are thankful the Senate saw this for what it was, a piece of legislation from an interest group designed solely to stop this project,” said Scott Tranchemontagne, a spoke-sman for Club Motorsports.
Plans are for the course to be open in the fall of 2006, if federal and other permits are obtained.
Focus: Tamworth spokesman Charles Greenhalgh blamed the vote on the “corporate money” and lobbyists that Club Motorsports brought to the fight.