Group seeks to slow track's construction
Publication Salisbury Post
Date September 07, 2006
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Brief Staff report

SPENCER -- Historic preservationists have asked a Superior Court judge to scrap a conditional-use permit issued last month for a proposed road-course racetrack.

Filed on Friday in Rowan County Superior Court, the petition claims that the Spenc

Staff report

SPENCER -- Historic preservationists have asked a Superior Court judge to scrap a conditional-use permit issued last month for a proposed road-course racetrack.

Filed on Friday in Rowan County Superior Court, the petition claims that the Spencer Zoning Board of Adjustment acted improperly in granting the permit to High Rock Properties.

David Risdon, head of High Rock Properties, and partners plan to spend $15 million to build the 2.65-mile racetrack and 100 trackside townhomes on the site of the former Color-Tex textile mill.

But the project has attracted opposition since its inception from the Trading Ford Historic District Preservation Association, whose members contend the track would destroy a key Civil War battlefield.

"These historic sites are irreplaceable," Ann Brownlee, head of the association, said. "We have been given a tremendous gift which can enrich the area, without any of the downsides a racetrack would have."

Nevertheless, the Spencer Zoning Board of Adjustment approved a conditional-use permit for the track after an Aug. 3 public hearing at which Trading Ford association members spoke.

T. Jefferson Morris, chairman of the Board of Adjustment, did not return a telephone call Tuesday.

In its petition, the historic preservation association asserts:

* The board failed to provide required public notice of the hearing in the local newspaper, with signage on the property and with letters to adjacent property owners.

* High Rock Properties failed to present "competent, material and substantial" evidence that it would comply with ordinances on air quality, noise, lighting, security, traffic, buffering, setback and fencing.

* That the racetrack proposal contained no substantial evidence "supporting the conclusion that the proposed racetrack will not adversely impact surrounding property."

* That substantial evidence was not presented to support the conclusion that granting the permit "would not violate the spirit or intent of local zoning laws."

* The application sought approval to develop property outside Spencer's zoning jurisdiction.

The petition claims the board failed to follow proper procedure, violated the Trading Ford association's due process rights and acted outside its legal authority to "arbitrarily and capriciously" grant the permit.

It asks the court to reverse the permit approval and halt further development on the property until a hearing is held on the claims contained in the petition. It also asks that Spencer be made to pay court costs.

In a column published in the Post on Aug. 23, Risdon wrote that High Rock Properties "intends to fully comply with the regulations stipulated within our conditional use permit."

Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & amp; Leonard, a Greensboro law firm, represents the Trading Ford Historic District Preservation Association.

The group filed a similar petition when Rowan County approved a permit for the track in 2005. That action was dismissed when Rowan revoked its permit after Spencer annexed part of the land at issue.