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Council delays vote on car park

Special meeting set for Feb. 16

POSTED: February 4, 2009 4:00 a.m.

As anticipated, the Dawsonville City Council rescheduled Monday’s public hearing on the rezoning for a proposed 152-acre motorsports park in western Dawson County.

  

Mayor Joe Lane Cox said the public hearing will be part of a Feb. 16 special called meeting.

  

The two-week delay follows last month’s planning commission meeting, during which the board voted to recommend the rezoning be approved.

  

The planning board’s recommendation called for several stipulations, including professional sound and environmental impact studies be completed at least one week before council considers the rezoning.

  

City Administrator Kim Cornelison said the council rescheduled the Feb. 2 hearing to give the applicant, Jeremy Porter, enough time to finish the studies.

  

Porter’s project calls for a Le Mans-style driving course nearly 3 miles long with straight-aways nearly 2,000 feet in length, as well as garages and a clubhouse.

  

Plans also include shops and retail space, as well as bike, car and kart rental space.

  

Linda Grant said she and fellow council member Jonathan Cox attended the Jan. 26 planning commission meeting for the “same reason everyone else was going — to learn as much as possible” about the proposed project.

  

“I’m receiving so many letters and e-mails about the motorsports park ... just about as many from people wanting it as people not wanting it,” said Grant, the city’s mayor pro-tem.

  

Grant said she plans to spend the next two weeks doing her own research to determine if the proposal is in the city’s best interest.

  

Preliminary estimates from the Development Authority of Dawson County indicate the development could generate as much as $4 million in tax revenue over the next eight to 10 years. It could also bring dozens of new jobs.

  

“We all have a lot of work to do,” Grant said.

  

Atlanta Motorsports Park has drawn opposition since the fall, when Porter introduced the project on Duck Thurmond Road. The property was annexed into the city of Dawsonville more than a year ago.

  

Hundreds of residents have banded together to fight what they say will be an intrusive and negative venture on their lives.

  

Opponents, who packed the last two planning commission meetings, have urged officials to consider the project’s potential noise, environmental damage and impact on property values, among other issues.

  

One group, Citizens4Dawson, also asked the planning commission to require that Porter supply financial disclosures and post a performance bond to guarantee “the city the means to restore the site to its original condition if the project fails.”

  

Performance bonds, Cornelison said, are typically required to support roads, soil or erosion and infrastructure, not the replanting of trees.

  

She said private corporations, like Atlanta Motorsports Park, are unlike government entities, which are required to adhere to open records requests, including financial disclosures.

  

“It is not in the city’s authority to make that requirement,” she said.

  

West and Helen Hamryka, who own a 70-acre horse farm on Duck Thurmond, have retained attorney Richard Wingate to seek legal compensation for the nuisance they contend the park would bring.

  

After Monday night’s meeting, council went into executive session to discuss the threat of litigation. No action was taken in the closed-door session.

  

E-mail Michele Hester at michele@dawsonnews.com.

 

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