Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Smoke Signals (Big Canoe): AMP construction given the green light. (Obstacles remain, though)

Interesting points discussed from last month's court hearing.
AMP construction given the green light

The next step in the process is the hearing on the outstanding Motions for Summary Judgment

By Lynda Zblewski

On November 30, 2010, Senior Judge John Girardeau denied a motion for Interlocutory Injunction that would have halted construction at the site of the new Atlanta Motorsports Park (AMP).

Although the Court conceded the “potential” existed for the park to be a nuisance, the Plaintiffs (West and Helen Hamryka) had not shown enough of a current nuisance to merit an immediate injunction, according to the judge.

Porter “tickled” by decision

Following the November 30 hearing, Jeremy Porter, developer of AMP, was quoted in the Dawson Community News as being “tickled” at the judge’s decision (“Judge allows work to continue at park site”, by Michele Hester, posted December 8, 2010). He was further quoted as saying, “We are continuing to move forward, and I just pray the facts of this case continue to come out”.

The next step in the process is the hearing on the outstanding Motions for Summary Judgment. The attorney for the Hamryka’s, Richard Wingate, stated that the “plaintiffs are confident in the merits of their Motions and believe that the law will prevail in this case”.

The date for oral hearing of these motions was scheduled for December 21, 2010. At issue is the rezoning action by the City of Dawsonville, which ultimately permitted construction of the AMP facility. According to Wingate, “If the Court grants any of the Plaintiffs’ outstanding Motions, then the rezoning action is void and all construction activities at the AMP property must cease”.

During the November 30th proceeding, Wingate stated that the Hamryka’s had already suffered a significant loss in their property’s value. He also referred to their potential loss of business revenue in the training of hunter/jumper horses if clients moved elsewhere over concerns about their animal’s well-being.

Dr. Sue McConnell, a University of Pennsylvania professor and animal behaviorist was called to testify by Timothy Tanner, attorney for Atlanta Motorsports Park. During her testimony she stated, in her professional opinion, the noise from the operation of the AMP facility would not be detrimental to the horses and most horses would likely acclimate to the sounds over time.

During the hearing AMP developer Porter also testified. He was questioned with regard to current construction progress, the investment made to date and the future operation of the AMP facility.

As of November 30th Porter indicated that the AMP facility was 75 percent complete. The current target opening date is March of 2011. This date allows for 35 days of rain. If the rainfall is less, they anticipate opening sooner.

Porter also testified that approximately $4.8 million had been invested as of that date. This included, but was not limited to, expenses involved with tree harvesting, grading, infrastructure, concrete work for the entrance and signage. He also indicated that if work were to cease, five local companies would be adversely impacted. The five companies were not named.

When asked what type of vehicles would be using the facilities and course at Atlanta Motorsports Park, Porter testified that he anticipated about 75% of them would be standard production vehicles most likely of a sports car variety. The remaining 25% would be racing-type vehicles.

This response led to a question as to whether or not racing fuel would be stored at the facility. Porter believed that there would be some racing fuel kept on-site but was unsure as to how much. It was also unclear as to how the fuel would be contained and where on the grounds it would be stored.

A question was posed to Porter about the anticipated hours of operation of Atlanta Motorsports Park. He answered that hours of operation would be similar to that of a regular business day. According to the AMP website they indicate office hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and that “course hours” would be “determined upon scheduling”.

Following that line of questioning, Porter was queried at length about the decibel level monitoring that would need to be maintained. He indicated that the decibel level they must maintain is an average of 60 Dba. According to the stipulations of the rezoning agreement, however, that average is based on “hours of operation”, which will include ‘dead’ hours when the course is not in use.

Tanner, attorney for Atlanta Motorsports Park was contacted with a request for a Smoke Signals interview of Mr. Porter. In his response Tanner declined the interview citing the ongoing litigation. He did however acknowledge our request for a statement. At press time that statement and an additional request for clarification of some of Porter’s testimony had not been received.

Ed. note: Because results of the December 21, 2010 hearing will not be available before this issue goes to press we are not able to give you the Court’s decision. Please check Smoke Signals Online – www.bigcanoenews.com --for any updates.