Great news, Wally! Can't wait to see it in operation.
An interesting side note that family members of local supervisors may have "job opportunities" with the new venture. Business as usual for a governmental body. Billions of dollars were made in the 1950s/1960s by supervisors who bought property in the same vicinity that became exits for the eventual I-95. Wonder how they knew the route? Anyway, let's hope the proposed Speedway can jump the next hurdle with the Virginia Department of Transportation.
May 29th, 2013, 12:07 am
Raceway gets county’s OK
BY JEFF BRANSCOME / THE FREE LANCE–STAR
Dominion Raceway is closing in on the finish line in Spotsylvania County.
The Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission on Tuesday night voted to approve the raceway’s rezoning application and request for a special-use permit after two joint public hearings, one on each request. Planning Commission member Richard Sorrell, who expressed concerns about traffic and noise, cast the only dissenting vote. Sorrell represents the Berkeley District, where the raceway would be located.
About 50 people spoke at the public hearing on the rezoning request, with 70 percent of them in support of the raceway. Supporters hailed the project as an economic boon for the county and critics—many of whom live near the proposed raceway site—reiterated concerns about noise and traffic at the already congested Interstate 95 interchange at Thornburg.
Far fewer people spoke at the hearing on the permit.
Before the public hearings, Supervisor Gary Skinner disclosed that the raceway may hire his brother to manage its go-kart operations. And Supervisor Paul Trampe said his wife works as an unpaid CEO for a public access TV station that may televise some of the raceway’s events. Skinner and Trampe said they could remain impartial.
Several Planning Commission members, who make recommendations, explained their votes.
Commissioner Cristine Lynch said nobody can deny the raceway’s economic impact on Spotsylvania.
“My feeling is that the good of the county economically outweighs the concerns of the noise,” she said, noting she thought the applicant had fairly addressed the noise issue.
But Lynch was critical of the supervisors’ decision to hold joint public hearings with the Planning Commission. “I understand this is only the second time that this has been done, and I think the message it sends is, we’ve already decided,” she said. “This raceway’s going through.”
Opponents of the raceway have called the county’s support for the project a foregone conclusion.
Planning Commission Chairman Robert Stuber disagreed with Lynch, saying he thinks the county should have more joint hearings.
Typically, supervisors and the Planning Commission hold separate public hearings. They agreed to the joint meeting at the request of raceway officials, who hope to open the facility in time for next spring’s racing season. The approximately $10 million to $13 million facility, which would be built on 160 acres just off the interstate in Thornburg, would include an oval track for stock-car racing, a drag strip and a road course.
Tuesday night’s vote changed the property’s zoning designation from agricultural to commercial. The special-use permit allows the raceway to hold events such as concerts.
Still, raceway officials haven’t passed the finish line just yet. They must receive approval from the Virginia Department of Transportation for the facility’s entrance on Mudd Tavern Road. The entrance would be closer to I–95 ramps than state guidelines allow.
Earlier this year, a VDOT official issued a memo saying she could not approve it until raceway officials addressed a host of questions and concerns. The state agency will likely make a decision in the coming months now that the county has signed off on the raceway’s rezoning request.
Dominion has promised to pay for several transportation upgrades. That includes a traffic light at the I–95 northbound ramps, right and left turn lanes into the raceway entrance, and turn-lane improvements at the southbound I–95 ramp.
The raceway also has agreed to pay sheriff’s deputies to direct traffic at events drawing at least 2,000 people in the facility’s first year of operation.
And raceway officials will provide emergency personnel at events and hire a safety coordinator to work with Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center and Spotsylvania’s Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management.
Many of the opponents say they don’t think the developer has promised nearly enough to address noise and traffic issues. “We don’t believe the fairy-tale forecast about noise coming from the raceway,” said Matt Williamson, who said he thinks the track will result in lawsuits from residents upset by the noise.
Raceway officials don’t plan to build a sound wall at the site, but say I–95 will be a natural sound barrier. They also say a 50-foot building at the raceway site and grandstands with closed risers would be noise barriers.
Asked what he would do if the noise was louder than anticipated, raceway owner Steve Britt said he thinks he has done everything possible to mitigate sound.
Britt previously owned Old Dominion Speedway in Prince William County, which closed last year after 60 years of operation.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402
VDOT Officials were in attendence last night... shouldn't be much of a "hurdle"
Not much land to be bought next to Steve... Huge Conservation property next door and interstate 95 on the other side.
The original Old Dominion lasted over 60 years....( I sat with 95 year old Al Gore (original owner/builder of OD).....
Mr. Britt is putting over 14 million bucks in this deal..... It'll last 60 or more years I'm sure...
No cut & paste necessary.... but if you want to read the reporters half assed coverage..read above.(example..The Track Champion 2012 drove down , spoke & committed to running at the new track in 2014, no mention of that or vdot guys)
No Yeah Buts necessary..Britt is committed to making this work.. Thornburg can sure use a kick in the ass...Racers/Fans need & want it......
* the facility is in a "hollow" by the way.... noise wont be a problem........
Hope it goes and is highly successful. Northern Virginia race fans deserve a first rate facility after the loss of Old Dominion. Some of the best racing I ever witnessed was at Old Dominion in the late 60s.
Wally, I just saw one of the websites run by opponents of the project:
That is a really, really nasty site.... "racing causes deaths," etc. They went all out with their nastiness to try to stop the project, didn't they?
I did note on the opponents' site that the Po River runs near the new Dominion Raceway site. The Po & the Ni join in Caroline County to form the Poni River and the Mat and the Ta join in Spotsylvania to form the Matta River. The Matta and the Poni then join to form the Mattaponi river and that reminds me of my late father.
Dad was born in Danville, Virginia in 1915 and soon moved to Columbia and Lake City, SC. At the age of 5, he and his sister were sent to stay until age 17 in King & Queen County, Virginia where he often swam in the Mattaponi River. The area was also home to the Mattaponi Indian Tribe as well as the Pamunkey Indian Tribe. The Mattaponi and Pamunkey rivers join at West Point, Virginia - home of the infamous West Point Light - to form the York River.
Anyway, as a boy, Dad always told me about the Indian who fell asleep on his mat beside the river. When he awakened, he'd rolled over and the mat was on top of the Indian. He was then said to have uttered the words, "Mat Upon I." Thus did the Mattaponi River and Mattaponi Indian Tribe get their names.
Reading the opponents' propaganda at least reminded me of Dad, who passed in May 2001, 12 years ago. He accompanied me to Old Dominion Speedway from Richmond in 1971 to see Ray Hendrick win the third running of the Bill Bogley Gold Trophy race over the best Late Model Sportsman drivers in the country. I never saw Dad enjoy anything more. He grew up on the river that is fed by The Po and he'd heartily endorse the new track if he were here to speak for it.
That's a very cluttered and difficult to read website. Topics bleed over from one page to the next as well, which dilutes the argument at hand and makes it look like they were just trying to fill the page. They would definitely benefit from paying a web designer. If it were my site, I would make traffic or noise the lead story, not the Small Whorled Pogonia. Homeowners have more immediate concerns than the fate of something that looks like poison oak.
I feel that their 10 mile raceway sound radius is an over-exaggeration. If the terrain were relatively flat, I think that 3 miles would be a more accurate concern and that only for unmuffled race cars. The type of cars that would be on the track during school hours would likely be modified street cars and it's very easy to put a decibel requirement on them. I think they have a point about two schools within the one mile radius. Young boys will hear even muffled cars at that distance and I know that I wouldn't have been able to pay attention with race cars that close by.
I'm also suspicious of the fringe benefits that appear to already be lining up for family & friends of the Planning Commission. It looks like a scheme to line someone's pockets I think Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia has them trumped on road racing for professionals and amateurs alike. I can't see that as being a substantial part of their business. Google says that there are two 1/4 mile and two 1/8 mile dragstrips within an hour's drive. It appears to me that they're going to have to make the majority of their money on Saturday night oval racing.