DADE CITY - Chad Reed's attorney says Pasco County changed the rules in the middle of the game, and now a judge will decide whether the motocross star has to forfeit the right to use his 63-acre training compound.
Pasco County sued Reed for continuing to ride motocross bikes and go-carts on the property after he transferred it to a trust in his children's names. That title transfer nullified the conditional use permit that restricted when and how he could train on the property.
In a hearing Friday, Assistant County Attorney Kristi Sims asked Judge William Sestak for a temporary injunction barring Reed and his friends from riding on the property before the case goes to trial.
Attorney Robert Lincoln said the county put Reed "in an impossible situation" because zoning officials approved his original site plan in 2004, but decided he needed a conditional use permit in 2010 after neighbors complained that he expanded the track.
"The county decided it did not like the interpretation of the ordinance they used in 2004," Lincoln said. "You can't just say the earlier person was wrong and we're simply going to change our minds."
But that's exactly what Sims argued. "We think the zoning administrator made a mistake in 2004," she said. "When it came to the Development Review Commission, she defended her position. She misinterpreted the code. I don't have any problem admitting that."
Sims said 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.
"The issue is he did, however, expand the track, amend the plan," Sims said. "He wanted, sought, and obtained something bigger and better."
Reed, who is in Southwick, Mass., for a motocross race, did not attend the hearing. His mechanic, Mike McQuillin, testified about Reed's training habits. McQuillin, who lives on the property and maintains the tracks, said Reed needs to ride to maintain his endurance and strength.
For Reed, it's critical that he be allowed to practice with multiple riders. "He has others ride with him so the track will get rough and duplicate the surface during a race," McQuillin said.
"His purpose is to sharpen his professional skills, correct?" she asked.
"Yes," McQuillin answered.
Sims also questioned McQuillin about YouTube videos showcasing Reed's property and training exploits. The county contends that Reed uses the videos to promote his brand and retain corporate sponsors.
Carol Clarke, the current zoning administrator, said those activities make the operation "commercial" in nature, even though Reed doesn't charge his friends to use the track or allow the public to watch.
"We don't think the county has proven that there's any legitimate basis to deny him the right to ride motorcycles on the improvements on his own property," Lincoln said. "The county, if they want to do that, they need to change their code. They don't get to change their interpretation."