A black flag was waved in the longstanding dispute between Clark Circle residents in Warren County and what has been billed as the next motor sports industry jewel in the region.
Warren County’s code enforcement officer issued a $100 fine Thursday to the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park for not complying with noise requirements at the track. The paperwork said the property owner failed to obtain a certificate of occupancy as required in the county zoning ordinance, which includes noise stipulations for the park that have been previously outlined.
The main stipulation is the park can’t open until noise from the park is mitigated for neighbors. A black flag in motor sports racing means a race car needs to pull into the pit area for a consultation.
The matter is expected to end up before the county’s Code Enforcement Board at its Sept. 9 meeting, Steve Hunter, executive director of the City-County Planning Commission of Warren County, said Thursday. The violator has seven days from the issuance of the fine to request a hearing before the county Code Enforcement Board, Hunter said
“When we issue a citation, we’ve started legal action,” Hunter said Thursday.
An attorney for the National Corvette Museum, Charles E. “Buzz” English Jr., said his client was surprised by the fine. No decision has been made by his client on whether to pay the $100 fine, the attorney added. The fine was issued to Wendell Strode, executive director of the museum, according to a copy of the citation.
English said in recent weeks, the park has been reaching out to neighbors of the track and county officials as a noise mitigation plan evolves. The park is working with acoustical engineers to resolve the matter, he said.
“Our emphasis is to be a good neighbor. We are doing everything we can to mitigate the noise,” English said.
Construction people consulting with the park met with county officials this week about a possible structure to be built at the property line of the park and Clark Circle residents, English said.
“We plan to build a berm,” English said. “When we do build something, it will be designed by acoustical engineers and it will have a positive effect.”
Circle Circle residents complained about noise from the park for several months – most recently taking their complaints to Warren County Fiscal Court last week, said Chris Davenport, an attorney representing several property owners along Clark Circle. English and Hunter were both present at the Fiscal Court meeting. Davenport wasn’t able to attend.
English said a Clark Circle resident played a recording of sound noise from the track for Fiscal Court. The sound recorded on a cellphone was played through the court’s public address system.
Hunter said the noise level was loud to those in earshot.
English said when asked about the tape, “I don’t question the cellphone recording.”
Clark Circle residents were bombarded by track noise the past two weekends from heavily attended events at the park, Hunter said Thursday evening prior to a Planning Commission meeting at City Hall in Bowling Green.
The executive director was asked Thursday evening why the fine was issued on Thursday morning.
“Enough is enough,” Hunter said. “We could have issued the fine in the 25th hour, but we have been trying to work with them.”
Davenport said he was pleased with Thursday’s development in the case, noting the action by the county gives his clients hope the noise matter will eventually be resolved.
“The ball is back in the park’s court,” Davenport said. “My clients have exhibited great patience to this point.”
In a July 29 letter to the Planning Commission, English said the NCM is working to address the noise issues at the track by Sept. 29.
Thursday evening, he said work continues.
The park at 505 Grimes Road received a notice of violation June 29 for noncompliance of the original agreement approved by the Planning Commission on Feb. 20, 2014.
That agreement, which included stipulations called binding elements, required noise abatement structures to be erected prior to the opening of the track.
That didn’t happen.
The park opened last fall and is considered an economic generator as car enthusiasts use the track to test vintage and contemporary vehicles. It has been lauded in several publications intended for visitors to southcentral Kentucky.
In the June 29 notice of violation, the code enforcement officer noted that inspections would be performed at the motorsports park July 1, July 30 and Sept. 28.
The notice specified the No. 1 correction required from the county was the park “... cease all building construction and event-related activities immediately” within 24 hours from receipt of the notice.
Events at the park did not stop.
English said Thursday the park cannot shut down because of contract obligations with groups using the park.
The No. 2 stipulation required the park within seven days from receipt of the notice of violation to submit a “detailed construction site plan compliance summary” specifying what’s been constructed on the property.
Within 30 days of the notice of violation the No. 3 stipulation was submission of a detailed construction outline and timeline.
A July 29 letter to the Planning Commission from English outlined a strategy to look at construction of a noise abatement structure, noting the plan might satisfy the binding elements but wasn’t necessarily recommended as a noise abatement strategy that would work.