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Planned Dominion Raceway seeks noise exemption in Spotsylvania

RELATED: See complete coverage of the Dominion Raceway

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The latest request from developers of the Dominion Raceway in Thornburg could create quite a clamor among racetrack opponents.

The raceway is asking that it be exempt from Spotsylvania County’s noise restrictions until 11 p.m. on Fridays and weekends—an hour later than the noise ordinance allows.

The Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 6–0 to direct its staff to draft such an exemption for a public hearing. Supervisor David Ross was absent.

County Administrator Doug Barnes said he expects the hearing—which will likely be followed by a vote on the proposal—to be held no later than August.

The county’s ordinance says commercial establishments that “customarily” emit noise—which will include the raceway after it opens next year—are exempt from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. But the raceway’s events on Fridays and weekends will last until 11 p.m., or an hour past that exempt period.

Fredericksburg attorney Charlie Payne, who represents the raceway, said most stock car races, for instance, will not start until approximately 7 p.m. and will end at 11 p.m.

He noted that raceway officials have promised in writing to end events by 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, with the exception of two NASCAR events that may last until 11 p.m.

“This will be a plus for our business and fan base,” Payne said of the proposed exemption.

Supervisor Emmitt Marshall, whose Berkeley District includes the planned raceway, disclosed the exemption request at Tuesday’s meeting. The request was not included in the meeting’s public agenda.

Marshall made the motion to have staff prepare the noise exemption for the raceway.

Meanwhile, racetrack opponents have cited noise and traffic congestion as their primary reasons for not supporting the project.

Raceway opponent Joyce Ackerman, president of the Coalition to Preserve the Thornburg Countryside, said supervisors aren’t taking concerns about the project into consideration.

“I think they’re not taking the constituents seriously and the harm it can do them,” she said. “We’re the people they’re representing. We voted for them, we pay taxes, we live here.

“It makes all these families think that they don’t care,” she said.

Diane Kuechler, another member of the anti-raceway coalition, said she’ll probably attend the public hearing on the noise exemption.

But she doesn’t think voicing her concerns will sway the supervisors.

“They’re so anxious to do whatever the developer wants that I don’t think people standing up saying we’re opposed to it is going to make a bit of difference,” she said. “I really don’t.”

Last month, supervisors unanimously approved the raceway’s rezoning application and request for a special-use permit after joint public hearings with the Planning Commission.

Raceway owner Steve Britt said recently that he hopes to open the facility just off Interstate 95 in July 2014.

It will be on 160 acres and have an oval track for stock car racing, a drag strip, a road course and a go-kart course.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402