Thursday, November 23, 2006
Board denies four-wheeler track
By SUE WATSON
The Marshall County Board of Supervisors has denied a request of a landowner to operate a four-wheeler club racing track in the Wall Hill community, located near Tate-Marshall Road in the southwestern portion of the county.
The owner/operator, Fred Kelly, appealed the planning commission’s denial of a request for a special exception to have the four-wheeler club, dubbed “The Dirty South Riders,” on a portion of a family estate of about 130 acres.
Kelly said the track would not be visible as it is set back 680 feet from the road.
The planning commission had denied Kelly’s request based on traffic congestion in the area, said Conway Moore, zoning board director. The planning commission received one approval and seven objections, citing noise, traffic, ruts and trespassing already taking place in the area, she said.
Kelly said it is not true his children’s riding club rides at night, but others may be riding the area up into the evening. He said he lives about a mile west of the riding area.
Kelly said he wants his children to have a place for riding and races and he would put down a well, gravel the road and add lighting.
He would charge admission to recover those costs.
The five clubs in the association operate on land at Laws Hill, Victoria, Highway 311 and Roberts Chapel Road, Kelly said. The clubs rotate weekends so his club would operate once a month.
Supervisor Keith Taylor asked how many children ride.
“The biggest club is probably Wyatte’s and most are from Tate County,” Kelly said. “They are steadily joining the club because we are on the county line.”
Taylor asked how many clubs were operating legally in the county and Moore said six or eight.
Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett asked how Kelly would make enough profit to pay off the costs of a well and the other improvements, which the owner said would be close to $9,000.
“I’m just doing it for my children,” Kelly said, and added if the track were not successful he would divide the property into lots.
Next, neighbors opposing the track petitioned the board.
Kathy Vilseck’s property adjoins the Kelly land and Paul Penn, of Tate County, has bought land across the road from Kelly’s property to subdivide into lots.
Penn said he can hear four-wheelers running at all times of the day. He said he will not be able to sell lots if the four-wheeler club is approved.
Vilseck said she hears pleasure riders from her back deck and riders do wheelies in the gravel road and rear up on the back wheels.
“So, they tear up the road and are flying over the hills. They are going to hit somebody. Whose fault is it, the guy driving the car or the four-wheeler?” she said. “One gentleman had to move, they became so noisy. They don’t stick to the track.”
Vilseck said adult ATV riders create congestion in the area already around the local convenience store and some ride about with beer in their hands.
“None of it sounds like a good idea,” she said.
Kelly said it was not his children or his club involved in that.
“I don’t have any control of that,” he said.
Vilseck said the four-wheeler riders are mostly coming off Tate-Marshall Road and are making paths on property that is not fenced.
Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett said it sounded like the four-wheeler clubs are getting into big business.
“You are not supposed to be riding unless you are 16,” he said. “It’s fixing to start loading us up. When it gets into professional racing, you’re getting way beyond your kids and what we are approving to start with on these tracks. There must be big money in it if there is so much interest.”
Vilseck said most of the riders in her area are not children, they are adults.
“What kind of liability are you going to have,” Penn asked.
Vilseck noted a small track for kids was operated in a front yard of a family near Independence where only the children ride.
Supervisor George Zinn addressed the matter.
“Mr. Kelly, I have not had an opportunity to meet you before, but I believe your intentions are good. But we’ve had so much trouble in the county with racing, so we put it in the hands of the planning commission to evaluate. Also, you had opposition. It is nothing personal, but I’m going with the planning commission on this.”
Supervisor Willie Flemon weighed in on the issue, noting the area is zoned agricultural/residential.
“My objection is once we start giving special exceptions and people start having a commercial business, we open up a keg of nails. It is also noisy and we have to respect people’s homes.”
Zinn motioned to uphold the planning commission and deny Kelly’s request, Flemon seconded and the board voted unanimously to deny the race track.
The next matter coming before the board was an appeal by the owner of Bossman B-B-Q to continue operations of a sandwich shop. The planning commission had approved the operation of the sandwich shop but subsequently received complaints about customers blocking the road and children present when alcohol was served.
“One offense is for blocking the road,” said Zinn. “Address that.”
The operator said he had fixed the matter by ordering customers to park their vehilcles properly out of the road.
Moore noted that the planning commission had granted a special exception with a probation period.
“Were there any other complaints?” asked Bennett.
“Underage drinking, gambling,” said Zinn.
The owner said he had scheduled a time for the general public to come in and buy food and a party time when teens were supposed to be excluded.
“Your response?” said Bennett.
“Evidently, somebody slipped up,” the operator said. “I have fixed that. I am paying groups to keep it straight (security), but it’s wiping out my profit.”
Zinn asked if security was there when the alleged drugs and underage children were present.
The owner said he arrived late on that occasion but the activity was stopped. Apparently an underage person had slipped in one night.
“Wasn’t this supposed to be a sandwich shop?” asked Flemon.
“Barbeque plates,” said Moore.
Flemon said the business is not located in his district but he got plenty of complaint calls to his home regarding shooting, gambling, underage drinking and blocking of the road.
“We took you at your word you would run and up-to-date place,” Flemon said.
“I’ve about got this done (settled), talked to deputies,” the operator said.
“I’m getting complaints from citizens you have fighting and shooting,” Flemon said.
Bennett asked how long the place had been open. The operator said four months.
With discussion completed, Flemon motioned and Bennett seconded a shut down order.
The motion passed 4-1 with Zinn opposing the order.
In other business, the board:
Report News: (662) 252-4261
Web Site managed and maintained