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Judge rules in parks favor
Mayor, council released from suit
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The defendants in a lawsuit aimed at halting construction of a motorsports park in western Dawson County scored a victory last week when a judge granted numerous motions in their favor.

 

West and Helen Hamryka, whose home and horse farm sit adjacent to the park property on Duck Thurmond Road, filed suit against the city of Dawsonville and Atlanta Motorsports Park in 2009.

 

They contend the park would create a nuisance by disturbing their way of life.

 

The couple also argued that zoning law had been violated when the mayor and city council approved the project without a development of regional impact study.

 

Senior Superior Court Judge John Girardeau said the plaintiff’s evidence to show a nuisance would be created was insufficient “given the conditions the city required in an effort to mitigate the sound emanating from the track.”

 

He also ruled the city did not violate zoning law in approving the park’s rezoning request in April 2009, contrary to the city’s comprehensive plan.

 

“There are no statutes in this state making comprehensive plans binding on local governments,” he said.

 

Girardeau released the mayor and council members from the lawsuit.

 

“There are no allegations of any conduct of the city council members or mayor that do not relate to their vote on the zoning map amendment or the procedural issues surrounding it,” he said.

 

Mayor Joe Lane Cox said Tuesday the ruling was “the news we’ve been waiting on.”

 

“It’s good news. We thought we were right all along,” he said. “Sometimes, you just need a judge to tell you so.”

 

Jeremy Porter, founder and CEO of Atlanta Motorsports Park, was also pleased with the outcome.

 

“But sadly enough, the only people that have really won are the attorneys,” said

 

Porter, who said legal fees continue to mount.

 

In a blow to Porter, Girardeau denied his motion for attorney fees. He also rejected Porter’s request to exclude two expert witnesses the plaintiffs presented.

 

Richard Wingate, who represents the Hamrykas, said his clients were disappointed in the judge’s decisions.

 

“But we believe these issues will be resolved at appellate level,” he said. “It looks like we’ll be moving toward trial.”

 

In the meantime, Atlanta Motorsports Park continues to push closer to a projected June opening.

 

With 75 percent of grading complete, crews began laying the track’s base layer last week. 

 

The park will feature two miles of track designed for both four- and two-wheel vehicles, a fast straightaway, rental garages and a clubhouse.

 

Hiking trails, a fitness center, pool, tennis courts and a small restaurant are also in the plans.

 

“We’ve sold $2.1 million in memberships, $900,000 in sponsorships,” Porter said. “We’ve leased out every rental garage in phase one and leased out every track rental day except for one through 2011.”