Racetrack uses approved

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In a 6-to-1 vote, Carson City Planning Commissioners agreed Wednesday that Carson Tahoe Champion Speedway officials can continue to operate the track with events it has hosted since 1978.

Before a crowd of about 70, commissioners agreed that events from automobile racing to the more controversial motocross, all-terrain vehicles and go-kart racing are grandfathered uses -- those that have existed at the track without interruption since at least 1978. The permit for the track was approved even though Carson Deputy District Attorney Neil Rombardo issued an opinion that cast doubt on the legal status of some of the events.

Taking a approach that "racing is racing" Commissioner Richard Wipfli said, he and other commissioners agreed that ATVs and go karts could be included as part of normal track operations. Other than agreeing with track operators on time limitations, commissioners changed little of the track's operations.

Rombardo noted in a Feb. 22 memo that the addition of the kart track, testing and filming at the track and to some extent, driver training during nonrace hours were illegal track uses. Also, Rombardo supported claims that the motocross track had been abandoned at some point and was no longer a legal use. Track neighbors claim no credible, printed evidence of any kind supports that motocross racing occurred at the track in 1981. Track officials did provide signed petitions from racers who claim to have raced at the track since 1978, although Rombardo pointed out the petitions do not indicate whether the racers were there every year.

However, commissioners sided with several racers who testified at the meeting that the track's neighbors knew the track was there when they moved into the area.

"For people who are unhappy, they put themselves in a situation," Commissioner Gayle Farley said. "Normal expansion of business is a fact of life. I feel sorry that this is going on."

For their part, track neighbors said they aren't asking for the track to go away. Commissioners agreed that while specific uses may not have changed, the intensity level likely has. In the last six years, neighbors noted that traffic, noise, dust and general use of the track has increased.

Track neighbor Warren Andrews said he would be willing to give up on the motocross issue if someone would produce hard evidence -- rather than affidavits signed by racers -- that motocross racing occurred at the speedway in 1981.

"We're relying on testimony and not on facts," Andrews said. "We have to seriously consider that this is not grandfathered. When they raced at all, (the Nevada Appeal) printed it. There was no information in 1981."

Commissioners approved an agreement with track officials that eventually will see racing end Saturday's around 10:30 p.m. and should rid the area of late night partiers before 1 a.m. Also, training times during weekdays were limited from noon to 5 p.m. Decibel levels aren't supposed to exceed 95 decibels 100 feet from the track. Proving the track's compliance with these and other conditions will likely fall into the hands of its neighbors.

Commissioner John Peery cast the lone no vote.

"I wasn't satisfied with the variables (like) time limits and enforceability," Peery said. "This should have been more hammered together from the beginning. I'm not against racing, but the document was flawed and there was not enough clarity on many issues."

Issues of traffic, dust control, noise and other issues related to living near the track were deemed outside the scope of the permit process, which also saw the approval of an office for the site.

Those displeased with the decision have 10 days to appeal the decision to the city's Board of Supervisors.


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