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A controversial variance to get around regulations set forth in the Grady County Special Land Use Ordinance was approved by the Grady County Commission on a 4-1 vote Tuesday morning.
The lone nay vote was cast by board member June Knight, however, Commission Chairwoman LaFaye Copeland was hesitant before ultimately voting in favor of granting the variance. “I feel for the people who live out there. I just pray for the people out there and that it’s not what they think it is going to be. I know how I would feel if it were in my district,” the commission chair said.
Chairwoman Copeland said Raymond Woods and his three-day event in November would be “our tester.”
“Your event will determine if we approve one again,” she said.
Commissioner Ray Prince, who represents the area where the motocross track on Bold Springs Road is located, said, “If it doesn’t work out and turns out to be a nightmare, which I don’t think it will, then there won’t be another one. You don’t know until you actually try.”
“I really do want to be a pro-business person, but the restrictions are there. If you can do it within those restrictions then that’s fine. I have to think of the other people,” Commissioner Knight said.
Woods was seeking relief from the hours of operation and the noise limits for a planned event to be held Nov. 1-3 at his Georgia Practice Facility.
Prior to the vote on the variance, Cary Bishop, a resident of Evergreen Lane, told commissioners that approving this variance would be “opening a Pandora’s box” and other motocross facilities in the county would be seeking variances in the future.
Phillip Martin, a resident of Longleaf Lane, suggested that residents of the surrounding area of motocross facilities were being held “hostage” year round and not just one, two or three days a year. “It’s a daily thing,” he said. Martin also suggested that the county tax those who come to train or compete at motocross facilities similar to the hospitality taxes charged when someone stays in a hotel.
Woods said he did not foresee the other tracks seeking similar variances and he also pointed out that many people involved in motocross had moved to Grady County and were paying taxes already.
On a motion offered by Commissioner Phillip Drew and seconded by Commissioner Prince, the board voted to approve the variance.
Tuesday’s vote follows a public hearing held July 16 in which a large crowd attended and proponents and opponents voiced their opinions on the variance request.