By Amy Jo Martin, email@example.com
2:11 PM EST, December 17, 2013
Another one-day motorcycle event may be coming to Colonial Downs next summer.
The New Kent Planning Commission voted unanimously Monday night to favorably forward to the Board of Supervisors the horse track's Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for a summer 2014 motorcycle race.
"I strongly support it… originally, I was pretty much against it," District 4 commissioner Richard Kontny, Jr. told Colonial Downs representatives. "But, the way you approached it and handled it, made me really see you're a very important asset to the county."
The first Colonial Downs motorcycle race, Virginia Mega Mile, was held Aug. 24, 2013, and generated concern among the community, especially those living in Brickshire and other neighborhoods surrounding the track.
At both the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors meetings, dozens of residents came forward to discuss noise levels, increased traffic, and the event's impact on their property values.
A few residents, however, did speak in favor of bringing the race to the county for its financial and athletic sports benefits.
The public hearing Monday night was vastly different from the previous highly-attended meetings. No one spoke at the public hearing and the county heard little opposition to a second Virginia Mega Mile, tentatively set for Aug. 23, 2014.
A sound test conducted during the inaugural 2013 Virginia Mega Mile showed that the decibel levels from neighbors mowing their lawns far exceeded the decibel levels generated by the race.
"I went out and walked the neighborhood during the races and I had no problem carrying on a cell phone conversation," said District 2 commissioner Katherine Butler. "There were other people walking their dogs and chit chatting and enjoying the nice summer day. The sound was very, very minimal."
County Administrator Rodney Hathaway reported that the county received very few noise complaints. However, when Colonial Downs President Ian Stewart heard that a few residents were unhappy about the 10 a.m. test runs, he shifted the test time to 2 p.m., meaning the races will end at 8 p.m.
"What I really appreciated the most was there were some complaints and you made some attempts to address them, not only for the people who live there, but also for the racetrack," Kontny said.
"And I know that as this goes along, you'll have to make adjustments. If it turns out that 8'oclock is too late, maybe there is a happy medium."
"I personally believe you have done a great service to the county by taking the time to do the right thing," Kontny added.
As a part of the CUP process, Colonial Downs must also submit a Cultural Events Permit at least 30 days prior to the event and notify the Brickshire Community and Oakmont Villas neighborhood associations of the race date and time (at least 72 hours prior to the event).
According to Stewart, the second Virginia Mega Mile will bring business into the county, both at the racetrack, and local businesses.
"From a tourism perspective, the motorcycle race is a unique opportunity to showcase the great area through a national event," Stewart said. "From an economical standpoint, the motorcycle race generates direct tax revenue for the county through admission, food and beverages, and sale taxes. It [also] provides some additional employment opportunities for seasonal Colonial Downs employees, many of whom are New Kent residents."
District 2 commissioner Michael Lane, Jr., concurred with Stewart and added that the crowd of motorcycle race fans that he met were not only supportive of the racetrack, but also of the county's economy.
"I did see motorcyclers all over the county spending money and they were very nice people," Lane said.
"I think it's a very positive event and I'm looking forward to it next year."
For more information on the Colonial Downs/Holdings CUP application, please visit: http://www.co.new-kent.va.us.
The New Kent Planning Commission will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the county administration boardroom.
Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.
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