DADE CITY — Pasco County won the first round in its long running legal battle with motocross star Chad Reed.
County Judge William Sestak issued a temporary injunction this week barring Reed from riding dirtbikes or go-karts on the bulk of his 63-acre training compound just outside of Dade City. Reed can continue to use two replica indoor tracks on a 4-acre portion of the property that were approved in 2004.
“We’re very pleased with the ruling and the analysis that was used in it,” said Carol Clarke, the county’s zoning administrator.
The county sued Reed after he thwarted an attempt to revoke his conditional use permit in March by transferring ownership of the property to a trust for his two children. Reed, who does not live on the property, has never attempted to hide his use of the track. Neighbors frequently complained that he flouted the conditions of the permit by riding in the evenings, on weekends and by riding go-karts on the paved track.
Reed has argued that riding dirtbikes, ATVs and go-karts are recreational uses that are allowed in agricultural zones. His attorneys said the county changed the rules in the middle of the game by forcing him to apply for a conditional use permit after the first tracks had already been permitted.
“Chad is very disappointed with the court’s ruling and intends to appeal,” attorney Barbara Wilhite said. “He does not understand how the government could decide in 2004 that he was allowed to ride motorcycles on homemade dirt courses on his property, but then, years later, convince a judge to rule that the same use is not allowed and order him to stop. Chad’s use of his property for motocross riding has not changed since he purchased the property for that purpose almost 10 years ago.”
Assistant County Attorney Kristi Sims argued in court that if Reed had not expanded the track from the approved 4 acres to 24 acres, he would not have been required to seek a conditional use permit, and he could have ridden as often as he liked. Sestak agreed.
“It is not equitable for Chad Reed to expand the property or use of the property without the proper site permit approval; get caught; fail to challenge the county’s demand that he obtain a conditional use permit; violate the restrictions of the conditional use permit; and now argue that he has never needed a conditional use permit,” Sestak wrote.
He also agreed with Clarke’s interpretation that the paved track is “characteristically similar” to an automobile race track. “It is an asphalt paved track in which formula-one type go-karts are being operated,” he wrote. “While an automobile race track is usually oval and the go-kart track is winding, the only difference between them is the size of the vehicle being operated.”
Neighbor Jacque Klein said Sestak “made a ruling for civility.”
“This is only a temporary injunction,” she said. “However, I’m pleased that Judge Sestak is giving the case the scrutiny that it deserves.”
County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder will now seek a permanent injunction to prohibit Reed from riding motocross bikes or go-karts on any of the tracks. He said the case will go to a bench trial, also before Sestak. Reed is not entitled to a jury trial on a zoning case.