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Appeal of Grandfathered Use of Racetrack in ETJ To Continue on April 7

Editor’s Note: The Boone Board of Adjustment met last night but the hearing didn’t conclude. The second day of the hearing will take place on Thursday, April 7, at 5:30 p.m.

By Jesse Wood

Two groups – Watauga Citizens for Local Control (WCLC) and Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) – have filed an appeal to the Boone Board of Adjustment regarding staff’s interpretation of the classification allowing the Mountain View Speedway to operate at the High Country Fairgrounds on Roby Greene Road.

The appeal will take place on March 23 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers on Blowing Rock Road.

Photo from Mountain View Speedway Facebook page.
Photo from Mountain View Speedway Facebook page.

Earlier this year, Locust Hill resident Annette Reeves began complaining about noise at the race tack to both the Watauga County Board of Commissioners and the Boone Town Council. While the property is currently grandfathered in for racing in the Town of Boone’s ETJ, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office handles the noise complaints in the ETJ.

In July, Reeves requested to be on the Boone Town Council’s meeting agenda to formally request a “total shutdown” of the Mountain View Speedway because it “clashes with the residential/agricultural nature of the area and negatively impacts our quality of life,” according to her petition submitted to the Boone Town Council.

Racetrack supporters have showed up to Boone Town Council meetings over the summer to tell their side of the story. The supporters of the race track say that this is a family-friendly event that keeps people off the streets, so to speak, and provides tax revenue to region. 

The noise for this use is allowed until 11 p.m., and the races generally end by 10:30. The reason this issue is coming up now is because the racetrack didn’t operate for the past 17 years. It just re-opened this past year.

Counsel for the BREDL and WCLC claim that Planning Director Bill Bailey decision to label racing as a grandfathered use was “made outside the scope of the authority of the planning director and that the decision was a violation of the UDO [town code].”

A staff report for the hearing states Bailey’s reasoning behind the decision. Staff determined that the racetrack qualified as a “recreational facility,” which is allowed for certain limited uses in areas zoned Residential/Agricultural, like the High Country Fairgrounds property.

“While car racing is not specifically listed in Table 15.07 Table of Permissible Uses, the Administrator reverted to the long-held and common practice of looking for the most similar permitted use, and determined that the speedway could be considered Recreation, Category 3 (Use 12.12), which is defined in Article 34 Definitions as ‘A facility providing outdoor space in which regularly scheduled activities take place, and which utilize outdoor event lighting.’ The racetrack does hold races in the evening until 9:30 p.m. [on Saturdays in the warmer months] and does have lighting,” according to the staff report.

The meeting was initially slated for Nov. 5, but Brenda Henson with the Boone Planning and Inspections said that the appeal had been re-scheduled multiple times in order for a quorum to occur and in order for each sides representation to be able to attend.

To read a few stories about this topic, click here.