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Friday, Sep 22, 2017
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Motorcross course draws neighbors' ire

If San Antonio is a draw for bicyclists, Dade City attracts the other type of two-wheelers - the ones that like to get muddy and make a hellacious racket. The city known for antiquing and Southern charm, named one of the top places to retire, also has been home to four public and private motocross tracks. Randy Yoho, who runs the Dade City Motocross at the Pasco County Fairgrounds, said the sport has a rich history in this area. His company, the only licensed track in the county, has been hosting motorcycle races every weekend for 31 years. "We have 100 to 300 riders every (Saturday) night," Yoho said.
Dade City Motocross has been a training ground for generations of riders who have gone pro. It's always a big deal when Chad Reed, a two-time World Supercross champion, makes an appearance, he said. Reed built his own private racetrack on 4 acres just off Enterprise Road and expanded it to 24 acres this year. Surrounded by cow pastures and commercial nurseries, Reed's state-of-the-art facility includes two replica indoor tracks, a paved track and a new, 11-acre dirt course. Pasco County commissioners granted Reed a conditional-use permit for the motocross track Aug. 10, infuriating neighbors who said Reed flouted county zoning laws and expanded the course without a permit. He was fined $1,000 for the code violation. "He expanded it to 24 acres, and he had no environmental studies done," neighbor Jacque Klein said. "We felt like they were rewarding him." Klein and her husband, Bud, own an organic nursery next to Reed's 63 acres. She said the area is home to a dozen threatened or endangered species, including gopher tortoises. The noise last spring, when Reed and his supercross teammates were training for the season, was intolerable, they said. There were days the team members rode from 9 a.m. until dark. "You can hear it in the house, even with the windows closed and the A.C. on," Bud Klein said. "We've lived here for 22 years, and it was a peaceful paradise until this guy moved in." Reed did not respond to interview requests. Yoho said he followed the case and defended Reed's right to build the track. "World-class riders like Reed need to have private training facilities," he said. "They need to be secluded. They can't be riding with the public." And he's not the first pro racer to build a private training course near Dade City. Florida native Tim Ferry, who raced professionally for a decade, was the first celebrity racer to build a private motocross track on 40 acres just south of the fairgrounds. Debra Zampetti, Pasco County's zoning administrator, said Ferry bought his land in 1998 and got staff approval for the track. He built a home there in 2002 but has lived in Pinellas County for the past five years. Ferry and Yoho found a way to co-exist with their rural neighborhood. "We try to be friendly neighbors," Yoho said. "We wouldn't be here 31 years if we weren't good neighbors." Zampetti said that Reed must comply with strict conditions. He must submit a site plan and an environmental impact study by mid-September. He cannot have more than five riders using the track at any time. He cannot ride before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m., and never on weekends. And if he sells the property, the next owner will not be permitted to use the tracks. "In this case, granted, he expanded his use without approval," Zampetti said. "This is an effort to allow him to come into compliance, and if he doesn't, there are no guarantees that he'll get to keep it." Commissioners shut down a motocross track in 2008 after the owners of Flying High MX Park repeatedly violated their conditional use. "We're going to treat Chad Reed the same way we treated Bob Wood, and we'll revoke his conditional use," Commissioner Ted Schrader said. All of the motocross tracks are in Schrader's district. He said he supported the conditional use because it gave the county a better method of policing Reed's use of the track. It also gives the county grounds to revoke the permit if Reed violates the conditions. "I honestly think they would have gone and taken Pasco County to court, and since we didn't have a conditional use, he might have had a stronger case," Schrader said. "If we end up going in front of a judge, I wanted to make sure Pasco County was on good legal ground." The Kleins say Reed already has violated the conditions. A rider used the track one day last week at 5 p.m. "He's not allowed to ride after 4 p.m.," Schrader said. "It's troubling to me that the ink isn't even dry yet and they're already out there violating the conditions."

Reporter Laura Kinsler can be reached at (813) 259-8109.

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