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Lawsuit challenges motorsports park

Defendants say case ‘frivolous and abusive’

POSTED: June 17, 2009 4:00 a.m.

The attorney for a couple attempting to block the construction of a motorsports country club in western Dawson County vows a lengthy legal battle.


“We are going to fight this all the way,” said Richard Wingate, who represents West and Helen Hamryka.


“The complaint speaks for itself. If build out and construction of the project is as planned, it’s going to just ruin my clients’ livelihood.”


The Hamrykas, who own a home and horse farm across from the 152-acre car park site, have filed suit against developer Jeremy Porter, Atlanta Motorsports Park, the city of Dawsonville, Dawsonville City Council, and EHK (Ernie Elliott) Investments.


The suit, filed last month in Superior Court, claims the defendants are responsible “for the unlawful interference of [the Hamrykas’] right to enjoy the possession of their property and for the disruption of their business.”


According to court documents, the Hamrykas seek an injunction to prevent construction of the motorsports park, as well as at least $3 million in damages, plus legal fees.


The suit, also claims the city of Dawsonville violated Georgia’s zoning procedure act and should have required a Development of Regional Impact study before approving the “mixed use facility.”


Several defendants in the civil case say the suit is frivolous.


“We think the lawsuit is an abuse of the process,” said co-defendant Jeremy Porter, founder of Atlanta Motorsports Park. “Four different attorneys are telling us they think this is a frivolous and abusive suit.”


Billed as a country club for sports car enthusiasts, the Atlanta Motorsports Park plan calls for nearly three miles of high performance road course for two- and four-wheel vehicles, a members-only lounge, 10,000 square foot clubhouse, pool and hiking trails.


As of early this week, the defendants had not seen the lawsuit. Still, Porter said, he sees the filing as a scare tactic.


“We think that by filing a lawsuit they are trying to dissuade investors from buying into the park,” said Porter, adding that he has the opportunity to counter sue, but plans instead to take what he called the “ethical” road.


Porter said the suit has not hindered membership sales.


“The goal is to pay cash for the land, and we think we’re going to be able to do that,” he said.


Landowner and co-defendant Ernie Elliott said last week he is concerned for every property owner in the country if a lawsuit can be filed against a landowner wanting to sell his property.


“We’ve invested in the real estate for ages now with the idea that we’d sell it some day,” Elliott said. “That’s exactly what we’re doing now. We listed the property with a legitimate real estate agent, and now we have a legitimate buyer.


“If they think they can sue the property owner for trying to sell his property, every other property owner in the country should take a hard look at this. It’s going to set some hard precedent.”


Dawsonville administrator Kim Cornelison said the city does not plan to comment on the lawsuit, which it hasn’t received.


“Our attorney has a copy and has perused through it,” she said. “But right now, if we’re not served, as far as we’re concerned, there is no lawsuit.”


Because city ordinances are in question, Wingate said, there was a timeline to file the suit and “certified copies are required in the records.”


“We now have amended the complaint with the certified copies,” he said. “The defendants will be served soon.”


Regardless of litigation, Porter said he plans to break ground on the project this fall.


“We’re coming up swinging,” he said.  


Preliminary estimates by the Development Authority of Dawson County have indicated Porter’s project could bring in as much as $4 million in tax revenue over the next decade.


The development could also attract dozens of new jobs to the county.


“We have nothing to do with the racing park,” Elliott said. “That can be verified by anybody. But that’s not to say I’m not for it. I’m for any business that will bring jobs and growth to this county.


“I want to know that if something happens to this business my employees can have the opportunity to go across the street and get high-paying jobs without having to drive to Atlanta.”


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