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Raceway receives noise waiver

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The planned Dominion Raceway in Spotsylvania County will be able to hold racing events until 11 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and other select dates, despite the objections of some nearby residents.

The Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 6–1 to exempt racing events and practices from the county’s noise limitations between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, state and federal holidays and the day before or after those holidays. Without that change, the development would’ve had to end events an hour earlier or risk violating the county’s noise ordinance, according to staff.

Racing activities on the Sundays that don’t precede holidays will be exempt from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m., based on Tuesday’s vote.

Supervisor David Ross cast the lone dissenting vote but didn’t say why.

Three residents, all of whom live near the future raceway site, expressed opposition to the noise ordinance changes at a public hearing.

Matt Williamson, who lives in the North Point subdivision in Thornburg, said many residents aren’t aware they will be affected by the raceway, which he called an “abomination.”

“Once it starts and robs them of the quiet enjoyment of their property, I can assure you that you will have many angry citizens on your hands and justifiably so,” he said.

Terence Thompson, another North Point resident, said he has 20 years of experience as a noise consultant for the Federal Aviation Administration and airports. Extending raceway activities from 10 p.m. until 11 would open the county up to lawsuits, he said.

Spotsylvania resident and raceway supporter Mark Irving disagreed, saying at the public hearing that Interstate 95 is louder than the raceway will be.

Just one person spoke in October during the first public hearing on the raceway’s noise exemption. Supervisors tabled the issue at that meeting.

The 160-acre raceway, scheduled to open in 2015, will be right off the I–95 exit in Thornburg. It will include an oval track for stock car races, a drag strip, a road course and a go-kart course.

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

Still, the noise ordinance revisions don’t provide as much leeway as the raceway wanted.

The developer, for instance, hopes to have two events during weekdays that will last until 11 p.m. That timeframe won’t be allowed unless those events fall on holidays or on the day before or after holidays, based on the revised noise ordinance.

And the new ordinance also doesn’t address other events the raceway hopes to have, such as concerts and drive-in movies.

Fredericksburg attorney Charlie Payne, who represents the raceway, said at the public hearing that he supports the proposal’s “spirit” but suggested a redraft.

The county would have to hold another public hearing on any additional revisions to the noise ordinance.

Meanwhile, supervisors also decided against tightening noise restrictions for construction activity. Construction is currently exempt from noise limitations between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Supervisor Gary Skinner said he thought that timeframe started too early and ended too late, citing complaints from constituents.

But Supervisor Timothy McLaughlin noted that he hadn’t received any complaints about construction noise. Zoning Administration Troy Tignor said his department hadn’t received complaints, either.

“If it’s not broke, why are we fixing it?” McLaughlin asked.

In other business, the supervisors unanimously voted to rezone about 20 acres off Spotsylvania Parkway for a 274-unit “high end” apartment complex near Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center. The Silver Cos., which owns the property, plans to build the apartments.

The acreage was previously rezoned for commercial space in 2007—part of the Cosner East development that was envisioned to have nothing but shops and offices, in addition to the hospital. But that vision has changed amid a slumping market for commercial space.

With the approval of the Silver Cos. apartment complex, Cosner East can now have up to 874 apartments.

In 2011, the supervisors rezoned about 47 acres at the development for 600 apartments, 260 of which have been built as part of Station Square at Cosner’s Corner.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402