By Jessie Burchette
Developers of a planned road course, High Rock International Raceway, have a conditional use permit that allows work to begin.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners gave approval to the permit though County Planning Manager Ed Muire made it clear that the applicant hadn't fully complied with requirements.
Plans call for construction of a 2-mile road course between U.S. 29 and Interstate 85 along the banks of the Yadkin River north of Spencer.
On June 20, the county approved the permit contingent on submission of a revised application within 45 days. Muire said the developer, Dave Risdon of Boston, had waited until the last day to submit required plans.
The deadline was Aug. 4. Although Risdon's letter responding to the requirements is dated Aug. 4, the detailed revised plans drawn by Darryl L. Wagoner of Salisbury Engineering and Planning are dated Aug. 9.
Muire pointed out several errors or omissions in the documents. For example, the requirement set by the board in June specified outdoor lights could not be taller than the existing tree line. The revised plan includes lights on 60-foot poles that Muire said are taller than some areas of the existing tree line.
Although commissioners unanimously approved the permit, two commissioners expressed concerns.
Chairman Arnold Chamberlain said the project is "not proceeding in a professional manner," and advised that there "are a lot of people watching."
Chamberlain expressed the hope that much of north Rowan is hoping for a good project. He suggested that it needs to be done right, adding, "or we'll talk more."
Risdon was slow to pay county taxes due on the former Color-Tex (N.C. Finishing) property.
Sides recalled Risdon's promises to pay back 401(k) funds lost by workers when Color-Tex abruptly closed. Risdon was a partner in Color-Tex and acquired the property through bankruptcy.
"He has made promises. I made clear I expect him to live up to his promises," Sides said.
Risdon and Frank McGuire are partners in N.C. Warehouse LLC, the company that owns the 200-plus acres and is developing the racetrack.
In reporting on the compliance, Muire cited several discrepancies in the plans. He took issue with the required traffic study, saying Risdon supplied flawed information. Muire said the study shows the same traffic flow and pattern in the year 2030 as in 2010.
"We attempted to do everything," McGuire said, acknowledging that Muire was "upset about the traffic study."
After the board unanimously accepted the revised plans and documents, Chamberlain asked Muire for "findings of facts," the legally required justifications that support conditional use permits.
"My findings are different from yours," responded Muire, leaving the board to generate its own findings.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or jburchette@ salisburypost.com.