Spotsylvania hearing on noise ordinance change for raceway set for Tuesday
Dominion Raceway officials have said all along that the track’s weekend events could run until 11 at night.
Problem is, Spotsylvania County’s noise ordinance says otherwise.
So the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will hold a public hearing on a proposal to exempt the raceway from local noise restrictions until 11 p.m. That’s an hour past the current exempt period for commercial establishments that “customarily” emit noise.
The 160-acre raceway right off Interstate 95 in Thornburg is scheduled to open in early 2015. It will have an oval track for stock car racing, a drag strip, a road course and a go-kart course.
For the most part, only events on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays would last until 11 p.m. The raceway has promised in writing to end all weekday events no later than 10 p.m., with the exception of two annual races sanctioned by NASCAR that could last an hour later.
In addition to races, the venue will host concerts, drive-in movies and other events.
“We are respectful of the concerns of our neighbors and believe our proffers clearly demonstrate this,” said Fredericksburg attorney Charlie Payne, who represents the raceway.
Drag strip races, which will be the noisiest of the events, typically occur on Fridays or Saturdays from 5 p.m until 11 p.m., according to raceway documents.
Stock car races are normally held on Saturdays and start at 7 p.m. They end between 9 and 11 at night.
The raceway has its critics—mostly nearby residents who are worried about the additional traffic and noise. Some of those opponents say they think the revised noise ordinance will be approved despite their objections.
Supervisors in May unanimously voted in favor of the project. The following month, they directed staff to draft an amended noise ordinance at the raceway’s request.
Raceway owner Steve Britt had initially hoped to open the facility in time for next year’s racing season. Now he says the plan is to open at the start of the 2015 season in February of that year.
A groundbreaking ceremony may happen late this month or in early November, said Britt, who is scheduled to close on the Thornburg property on Oct. 15. Construction, he said, will be “substantially complete” in late 2014 under the revised schedule.
Britt didn’t comment on the reasons for the delay but said things worked out for the best.
“ . . .We have had additional time to get ready/prepare, and the pace we were at just wasn’t sustainable,” he wrote in an email. “Everything in life seems to have its own natural flow/pace, and clearly we were pushing too hard.”
The raceway has also been working with the Virginia Department of Transportation. VDOT has expressed concern, most recently in a letter Sept. 12, about potential backups on I–95 off-ramps and other issues.
In the letter last month, a VDOT official asked that the raceway detail turn-lane improvements it has promised to make on the I–95 southbound off-ramp at Thornburg. In addition, the VDOT administrator requested an analysis of future backups on north and southbound off-ramps and the overall function of the interchange before and after the project.
Raceway officials can’t start necessary roadwork until receiving the go-ahead from VDOT.
On a positive note for the racetrack, Britt said he has hired Dominion Raceway’s first full-time staff member, Mike Mallon, who starts Oct. 14.
Mallon, who will initially work from a temporary office in Thornburg, will ultimately be responsible for social media, the track’s website and nonracing events like drive-in movie nights.
In the meantime, he will help with purchasing items, accounting work and other tasks, Britt said.
Mallon previously worked part time at Old Dominion Speedway in Prince William County, which closed last year after 60 years of operation.
Britt was the last owner of Old Dominion. He decided to relocate because that facility was hemmed in by residential development, which led to frequent noise complaints.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402
NOISE ORDINANCE HEARING
The Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider another amendment to the noise ordinance that is not related to Dominion Raceway.
Currently, construction activity and other common sources of noise are exempt from restrictions between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. during the entire week.
The county is proposing to start that exempt period two hours later, at 8 a.m., on Saturdays and Sundays so residents can enjoy the quiet a little longer before construction activity starts.
As for the raceway, the proposed language in the noise ordinance reads that “amateur and professional motorsports competitions and competition-related events such as time trials and practices, provided the competition is sanctioned by a nationally recognized motorsports racing organization and complies with all applicable laws, regulations and ordinances” will be exempt from noise restrictions between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.
The public hearing on those amendments starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Holbert Building, 9104 Courthouse Road.
ANOTHER PUBLIC HEARING
The Virginia Department of Transportation wants to buy a small amount of land that Spotsylvania County owns at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Mudd Tavern Road in Thornburg.VDOT needs the land to complete a $5.9 million project that includes putting left-turn lanes on U.S. 1 at the intersection with Mudd Tavern Road. Construction is scheduled to start by spring 2014.
The state would pay Spotsylvania $30,710 for a 3,226-square-foot right of way, in addition to some easements. The roadwork is meant to improve safety at the intersection, where 45 collisions occurred from 2005 through 2007, according to a VDOT spokeswoman.
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will have a public hearing on the proposed sale after the hearing on the noise ordinance revisions.
The VDOT project, expected to be finished by May 2015, is unrelated to Dominion Raceway, despite its proximity to the future track. A public informational meeting on the roadwork was held in April 2012—months before the raceway was announced.