Racetrack issues still up in air

For a second time, Carson City planning commissioners will be asked to postpone a decision that would define what activities are legal at Carson Tahoe Champion Speedway.

Planning commissioners postponed in November discussion of a permit to clarify speedway operations.

Prompted by complaints of neighbors, city officials began reviewing racetrack operations last year, and track lessee Jim Bawden worked with city officials to determine what historic uses have occurred at the track. However, after months of work, Bawden said he hasn't received comments from track neighbors to help ease their concerns.

With the racing season starting April 6, Bawden said, "we've been doing this as nicely as possible to meet our time schedule," but track operators are running out of time.

"We haven't really got where we thought we'd get with the neighbors," he said. "We're just not having people respond."

Bawden had planned to withdraw his request for a permit and to continue to operate the track within its historical uses.

"We've kind of proved the grandfathered uses," he said. "We're not asking for anything to be expanded."

However, he said Tuesday after discussions with Community Development Director Walt Sullivan, he decided to try to work with city officials and track neighbors for one more month.

Carson City Planner Lee Plemel said the point of pursuing a permit is to help city officials field complaints by knowing which operations can and cannot be held at the track.

The track has been in Carson City since 1963. Speedway events that have occurred since then are allowed to continue in what has become a residential neighborhood over the last six years. Neighbors have complained about traffic, noise, dust control and hours of operation and have questioned whether or not the track can have motocross and whether or not a driving school is allowed on the site.

Sue Coffey, a racetrack neighbor for 20 years, said she has grown so accustomed to the track "it doesn't even faze me." But if plans for the track include a driving school more than on the weekends, Coffey said it "will affect my quality of life."

"I have no problem with Jim Bawden operating (the speedway) as it has been in the past, but I hope he respects the wishes of those of us who live here," she said.

Speedway consultant Glen Martel said the track has always allowed drivers to train on the track, but it hasn't been referred to as a driving school. Attempts to define the uses at the track are causing the misconception that the track is expanding, Bawden said, which the track can't do without permission from the city.

Also, large, nearby property owners recently asked Bawden to agree to a master plan amendment which would allow housing in the area on less than one acre lots. Bawden said the city would be "shooting itself in he foot" and inviting a hoard of complaints if it agreed to the amendment without the track's cooperation. For that kind of housing development to go through, Bawden said the track would have to move, a possibility if there were a space for it to go, if it were financially feasible and if landowners agreed to contribute to the moving costs.

If you go:

What: Carson City Planning Commission meeting

When: 3:30 p.m., today

Where: the Community Center's Sierra Room, 851 E. William St.


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