http://www.app.com/article/20090908/NEWS/90908124/1277/LOCAL01/Critic+has+conflict++off-road+group+says+ Critic has conflict, off-road group says BY KIRK MOORE • STAFF WRITER • SEPTEMBER 8, 2009 LITTLE EGG HARBOR — Backers of the proposed Atlantic Off-Highway Vehicle Park are pushing back against one of their most outspoken critics, claiming that police Capt. Richard Buzby has a conflict because he owns land nearby. "He's utilizing his position as a police officer" to oppose the project, said Dale Freitas, president of the group that plans to use federal and state grant money to create a 120-acre motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle tract off Thomas Avenue. Township police Chief Mark Siino defended Buzby's work looking into the park plans, saying, "There are considerable public safety issues here." Siino said the township has received a letter from Howard Butensky, the lawyer who represents the off-road park, objecting to Buzby addressing the board while wearing his police uniform. Buzby is at zoning board meetings "on behalf of the Police Department to present all the facts as we know them, so the board can know all the issues," Siino said Friday. "He owns land in a lot of different areas. I know that . . . if it was personal, I would tell him to go there in blue jeans on his own time." Park backers and their critics will face off for the third time Wednesday, when the Board of Adjustment reconvenes a hearing into whether it should grant a variance to convert the Shoreline Materials sand mine off Thomas Avenue into a riding facility. Buzby, who has acknowledged his land holdings near unpaved Province Road, says his concerns center on potential burdens an off-road park would place on local emergency services. In the zoning board hearings, Buzby has challenged the sponsors' assertion that they can take care of first-aid needs with their own on-site crew. The last off-road vehicle park to operate in the region near Chatsworth had more than 300 first-aid calls in 2004-2008, Buzby told the board in June. "It is a conflict of interest to be representing the township in that capacity. Any officer could have done it," Freitas said Friday. Buzby declined to comment. Freitas said Buzby's properties are closer to the park site than the "more than a quarter-mile away" that Buzby asserted in a letter to the editor that was published July 22 in the Asbury Park Press. Local tax maps cited by Freitas show 28 woodland acres that Buzby owns in Eagleswood east of the Shoreline property, which extends into that neighboring township. (The off-road park proposal must come before Eagleswood land-use officials for approval at a later date.) One edge of the Shoreline property lies within 380 feet of the Province Road property line of the Buzby tract, Freitas said. "He's not acting on his own," Siino said. "We have an interest in bringing these issues to the board. . . . These people are making a quality of life decision for the entire township, after all. "We do not make that decision; I understand that. But the board should have all the facts." The off-road group is working with the state Green Acres program and grants totaling $2.3 million to obtain the Shoreline site and convert its 120 acres into riding trails, a parking area, training facility and an environmental education center. At a July 14 zoning board session, Green Acres administrator John Flynn said the state Department of Environmental Protection sees the Shoreline site as a partial solution to its statewide headaches with illegal off-road riding on state land. Amid an earlier crackdown in this decade on illegal riders, then-DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell pledged state support to create legal public riding parks. But the progress has been slow, with objections from neighbors and environmental activists blocking one project on a Green Acres tract in Gloucester County. Freitas said he is concerned that the lengthy local zoning approval process is setting the project back and bleeding its funds. It's costing backers about $1,200 an hour at meetings to employ their professional planners and engineers, he said. "My big concern is to keep the budget under control," he said.