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Spotsy seeks input on raceway noise exemption

RELATED: See complete coverage of the Dominion Raceway

MORE: Read more Spotsylvania County news

Spotsylvania County residents will have another chance to weigh in on a proposal to loosen noise restrictions for the planned Dominion Raceway in Thornburg.

The Board of Supervisors will have a public hearing Tuesday on a plan to exempt the raceway from local noise limitations until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. That’s an hour later than the existing noise ordinance allows.

The extension could potentially apply to federal holidays and the day before those holidays as well. The noise ordinance currently exempts commercial establishments that customarily emit noise from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, also during Tuesday’s hearing, supervisors will consider tightening noise restrictions countywide for construction and the maintenance or removal of trees—activities that are exempt from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m now. One proposal is to start that time frame an hour later in the morning and end it an hour earlier at night.

Scheduled to open in February 2015, the 160-acre raceway complex will include an oval track for stock car racing, a drag strip, a road course and a go-kart course. It will be right off the Interstate 95 exit in Thornburg.

Supervisors approved the project in May and directed county staff to draft an amended noise ordinance the next month.

Opponents of the raceway, who formed The Coalition to Preserve the Thornburg Countryside, have expressed concerns about traffic and noise. They’re against the noise exemption, but many think it will be approved despite their objections.

Nobody from the anti-raceway coalition spoke at the first public hearing on the exemption in October. Supervisors tabled the issue, partly so they could have more time to consider further restrictions on construction activity and timbering.

Some board members also had an issue with one part of the raceway’s noise exemption. Supervisor Timothy McLaughlin said he thought the cutoff on Sundays should remain at 10 p.m. instead of pushing it up to 11 as had been proposed.

The raceway’s attorney has said he is fine with that, but noted that the track needs the extension on Fridays and Saturdays to ensure the project’s success.

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. Rain dates could be scheduled for Sundays.

In addition to races, the venue also plans to host concerts, drive-in movies and other events.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402

jbranscome@freelancestar.com

NOISE EXEMPTION

Spotsylvania County’s noise ordinance currently defines a number of activities, like construction and school events, that are are exempt during certain hours.

The raceway would be added to that list, based on the proposed noise ordinance revisions. Activities at the venue that would be exempt during certain hours are: “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, including permit terms and conditions, if any.”

The public hearing on the noise exemption for the raceway will happen sometime after 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the board chambers of the Holbert Building, 9104 Courthouse Road.

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