Motorsports are activities in which operators use motor vehicles for recreational purposes. Vehicles like ATVs, snowmobiles, motocross bikes, and motorcycles are permitted for use on rural properties in Douglas County. However, on October 27, 2015, a temporary regulation of motorsports activity on rural residential land, was implemented by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners.
The governance of these activities came after residents reported concerns that large motorsports tracks were possibly being built on residential properties without any approval or management. Not to exceed a six-month period, the temporary regulation banned all motorsports facility construction on rural residential properties. Additional regulations included stipulations regarding existing motorsports tracks and facilities throughout the county.
On tracks in residential areas, no more than two vehicles can be operating on them simultaneously. They must be confined to a one-acre area positioned no less than 100 feet from the property line, and hours of operations have been limited to a twelve-hour block between 7 AM and 7 PM.
For the duration of the ban, county staff members were advised to establish permanent zoning regulations to later be enforced. The argument surrounding the ban is not so much about whether or not people should be able to operate motor vehicles on their property. It’s addressing the concern that rural homeowners have in regards to the constructing and facilitating commercial motorsports parks on residential land.
Satisfying the desires of the rural residential community in this debate is a challenge that county staff is currently facing. On one hand, there are members of the community who believe in their freedom to use personal land and property for their chosen activities, even in residential areas. County workers are also considering the opinions of those who are advocating for quiet, rural living and a peaceful environment. Ultimately, staff is working to identify what is acceptable, and what is prohibited or subject to further land-use regulations, when it comes to the use of motor vehicles and associated activities on rural land in residential communities.
The first of several public hearings in regards to this issue was held on December 9, 2015, where community members expressed concern of dust management, excessive noise, air quality and the visual impacts of motorsports.
With these concerns in mind, the Douglas County Planning Board drafted up an initial proposal for presentation on January 7th. County officials have developed an application process, where community members can apply to facilitate the specified motorsports tracks. As part of the process, applicants would be required to prove that they can limit the noise to 55 decibels or less at the property line. Additional requirements regarding operational limits may be necessary.
The formal referral period ended January 13, and the proposal was presented to the Douglas County Planning Commission at a public hearing on January 25. The proposal will be presented to the Douglas County Board of Commissioners at a final public hearing on February 16.