by ANDREW NEAL
Larry’s Performance R/C in Shelby Township has faced several delays in getting their race track open to the public. Building code requirements and miscommunication between the business and township have held up the process since Larry’s moved to Shelby six months ago.
Manager Mike Rossi says these code requirements were not made clear to him when they acquired the building. “None of our previous tracks in other cities required such a change in zoning, thus we were not prepared for this setback.”
Larry’s Performance R/C, a destination for R/C enthusiasts and hobbyists, has been in business for nearly 30 years. With previous locations in Waterford and Sterling Heights, last year they moved to the old ABC Warehouse at 22 & Van Dyke.
The building was permitted for retail and warehouse use, but when Larry’s moved in, they wanted to convert the warehouse space into a race track/demo area – a change that was not made clear to the township, according to building director Tim Wood.
“There’s no mention in the original application about a race track,” Wood said. “There was no mention of any electrical modifications being made in the application.”
In late August, a building inspector visited the property to do an initial inspection and suggested minor maintenance and compliance improvements. When the second inspection request came to them in November, Wood says they were surprised to see electrical and lighting work being done to renovate the warehouse area.
“Communication is key,” Wood said. “We discovered that they were doing more than we originally understood.”
The business was told they had to provide the township with architectural plans in order to obtain the proper building permits before they could continue the work or open the space to the public.
Manager Mike Rossi said, “Many meetings, phone calls, and emails have transpired between our representatives and the numerous township officials, architects, trades people, and supporters in order to resolve all issues and obtain the proper permitting to open our track.”
Miscommunication to Blame for R/C Track Delay
Rossi told the Gazette, “Before we moved into the building, we had a representative from the Building Department meet us out here. We explained what we were going to do. We were given a pretty short, very manageable list, of things to do in order to move forward with our plan… There was no mention of a zoning change at all at that point. There are notes on that original sheet that indicate how we were going to use the two areas.”
Both the township and the business say they have maintained a good working relationship throughout this process, and that miscommunication played a part in the delays.
“Despite me trying to be clear, it might not have been clear to someone what the business was going to be,” Rossi said.
The company submitted a third draft of their architectural drawings for the township’s review this week and building director Tim Wood told the Gazette Thursday, “A building permit was issued yesterday and alterations are proceeding.”
“This has never been my timetable – it’s always been theirs. I’m just trying to check off the boxes as they are presented to me,” Rossi said.
While it’s nearly over, Larry’s is trying to fast-track the remaining work in order to salvage what’s left of the R/C racing season.
Rossi is hoping to get a temporary occupancy permit to operate the track, and Wood says he is not opposed to that option, as long as all safety concerns are addressed.