Neighboring residents are up in arms after Jeremy Porter, owner of the Atlanta Motorsports Park in Dawsonville, presented an application to the Dawsonville Planning Commission asking for amendments to stipulations already set in place in the property's current zoning.
The proposed amendments include allowing for garage condos to be built on the property, but the most contentious of the proposals include eliminating the noise ordinance in the park on all holidays and for up to 10 additional days per year and extending the hours that the low-sound go-karts may be operated.
The requests also include use of a PA system, which the current stipulations do not allow.
The request states that main track activities and hours may be varied during holidays, which constitutes up to 14 days, and for up to 10 additional days after that. The request also includes lifting the noise ordinance during that time.
The application states that "such additional days must be Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays or days that are immediately before or immediately after a holiday."
To clarify, Porter said during the meeting that the unlimited sound days would not extend outside of normal hours.
"We wouldn't want to run into the evening hours, and not many events ever do run into the evenings on road courses ever," Porter said.
The current hours that the motorsports park operates are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Nov. 1 to March 31, and from 7 a.m. (or one hour after sunrise, whichever is earlier) to 8 p.m. (or one hour after sunset, whichever is earlier) from April 1 to Oct. 31.
Another amendment that would extend the hours that the go-karts are operated to 11 p.m. on weekends would also necessitate the installation of LED light fixtures to illuminate the track for safety.
Porter said that the light poles would be 50 feet in height, directional and confined to the go-kart track only. Porter also said that the light would be so dim and noise level from the go-karts so small that it should not interfere with nearby residents.
Residents at the Feb. 13 meeting disagreed, stating that they often wait for the night to fall so that they will have peace and quiet once the go-karts stop running.
Karl Stalnaker, who lives on Duck Thurmond Road right next to the motorsports park, said that he can hear people and noise from cars all the time through a barrier of trees on his property.
"The noise is incredibly bad all the time," Stalnaker said. "The thought of increasing their hours to 11 p.m. and opening regular use of the track on holidays is beyond the pale...I look forward to it getting dark because then I know it will be quiet."
Madonna Anderson, who lives on Sweetwater Juno Road a mile and a half from the motorsports park, works at home and said that she can hear the go-karts and cars.
"They're not obeying the noise ordinance," Anderson said. "We can't have guests over in our yard, and if they extend the hours on holidays we'll never be able to have guests over."
The planning board decided not to make a decision on the amendments at the Feb. 13 meeting because some members felt they could not make a fair decision without hearing the go-karts and other noise at the park firsthand.
Planning Commissioner Ken Breeden motioned to table the discussion for a month to allow for more clarity in what Porter had proposed.
"All of us understand the reason this is so difficult," Breeden said, addressing the neighbors gathered at the meeting. "In most cases, your biggest single investment is your home...and anything that threatens the best utilization of that home for you is a very difficult thing to deal with. We also need to understand what [Porter] is doing...trying to make a living and balance the budget. Where do you draw the line?"
The planning board will hear the application again on March 13 at the Dawsonville Municipal Complex.