Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.
It’s official: Application submitted to Spotsy for proposed Dominion Raceway
Spotsylvania County on Tuesday officially received an application for the proposed and much talked-about Dominion Raceway.
Steve Britt—who hopes to build the racing complex on 160 acres at the northeastern corner of the Thornburg exit off Interstate 95—announced his plans late last year. He is asking the county to rezone the land for the raceway and approve a special-use permit to allow drive-in movies and concerts at the site.
Britt hopes to start construction in May of this year and open the racing complex by spring 2014. He’s asking the county to speed up the process by considering a joint public hearing—at a date to be determined—on the proposed speedway with the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. Typically, those two governing bodies hold separate hearings. The Planning Commission makes recommendations and supervisors have final say.
Raceway officials say the raceway will be a catalyst for commercial investment in Thornburg, which their application calls “one of the last undeveloped commercial frontiers of the county.” An economic impact study commissioned by the raceway touts the millions of dollars the new development will bring to Spotsylvania.
But any public hearing on the proposed project is likely to be long and contentious. The raceway has many supporters but also opposition from a vocal group calling itself The Coalition to Preserve the Thornburg Countryside.
The raceway application does address some concerns about traffic and noise.
The applicant, for instance, promises turn-lane improvements along the I–95 northbound or southbound ramps to Mudd Tavern Road. Britt has also proffered a traffic signal at the intersection of Mudd Tavern Road and the I–95 northbound ramp and left and right turn improvements along Mudd Tavern Road.
A traffic impact study provides more information about those proposed improvements. The Free Lance-Star on Tuesday was not able to obtain a copy of the lengthy study, which was submitted in paper form at the close of the county’s business day.
The Dominion Raceway will likely need a waiver from the Virginia Department of Transportation because its proposed entrance is about 400 feet from the northbound ramp onto I–95.
The racing schedule typically runs from mid-February until October, according to the raceway’s application to the county. If built, the raceway would include an oval track for stock-car racing, a drag strip and a road course.
It also would have a large screen and a three-story entertainment complex that could be used year-round for festivals, concerts, drive-in movies and other events. Concerts would likely be the biggest draw, with the potential for up to 9,000 people.
The application says the loudest source of noise would be the drag-strip races, which would typically be on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 11 p.m., according to a raceway consultant. Noise from those events would be up to 80 decibels at locations half a mile from the raceway, as well as at the closest home 2,600 feet away from the drag strip’s starting line.
The noise would be up to 50 decibels at homes 3.5 miles away. A piano lesson would be 80 decibels at close range and normal office noise would be 50 decibels, according to information online.
The raceway would have an estimated total of 113 events, with 22 of those being drag races. It would have about 18 racing events on its oval speedway, which could draw up to 3,500 people on Saturday nights.
Britt previously ran the now-closed Old Dominion Speedway in Prince William County. That raceway—which was in business for more than 60 years—became hemmed in by residential development, leading to frequent noise complaints.
The application for the proposed Dominion Raceway in Spotsylvania County includes a lot of estimates about the project’s impact.
Here are some:
160,000 to 170,000 annual visitors, most of whom are not from Spotsylvania
$10.1 million in new economic activity generated annually
113 events annually
Seven to 10 full-time workers and 40 part-timers
$1.5 million annual payroll
$9.65 million construction budget
$6.3 million in annual spending by racers and spectators, at the race track and elsewhere in the county