Neighbors Oppose Speedway Campground

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July 15, 2008 by   - () Leave a Comment

About a dozen people showed up at a Trempealeau County, Wis., zoning meeting last week to protest the Tri-Oval Speedway’s proposal to establish a campground on site, something they contend happened before even going through proper channels.
Landowners near the racetrack outside Fountain City, Wis., were upset by an advertisement on the speedway’s website which touted a campsite at the location during the Fourth of July weekend. Neighbors photographed speedway patrons camped out during the holiday weekend, according to the Winona (Minn.) Daily News.
Residents point out that permits have to be obtained before opening campgrounds.
County zoning administrator Paul van Eijl said the earliest a campground permit could be approved for a speedway campground is August.
“People can break the law, but we’ll catch up to them,” van Eijl said.
Lawbreakers could face fines of $1,000, van Eijl said.
Jim Bechley, whose family has had land around the location of Tri-Oval since 1950, said his main concern in the event of a campground is a risk of fire.
“Having a campsite next to a private property presents a fire danger,” Bechley said after the meeting. “In the summer, it gets very hot and dry here. With the number of pine trees, firefighters couldn’t put the fire out in three to four weeks.”
Neighbors in the residential areas worry about the fire risk, but also about lowered property value due to the liability of a campground nearby.
“Conditional use permits can get denied if they are not conducive with community welfare,” van Eijl said in the meeting. “One of the standards in the handbook is ‘compatibility with existing uses on land adjacent there to.’”
At the meeting, racetrack owners argued that most – if not all – the residents built or bought property after the racetrack was already there.
Bechley said that’s an unfair comparison.
“Originally, they set up races on Friday, occasionally Saturday,” Bechley said. “Unfortunately, they are racing three, four or five times a week. The constant practicing is also unfortunate for the neighbors.”
The noise problems from racing could be doubled if bands are set to play or bonfires go into the early-morning hours.
Any campground that chose to have a concert or bonfire would have to apply for special-use permit, van Eijl said.
Ultimately, the zoning committee unanimously approved changing regulations for future campgrounds. Those proposed changes now go to the county board for approval. The zoning committee proposed clauses that would regulate the size of campgrounds, parking, fencing, garbage and any flammable materials. Depending on the county board’s decision, the speedway would have to comply with any changes to campground rules before a permit could be issued.
“The county board has a right to pass as proposed, make amendments to it or deny it outright,” van Eijl said.
The amendments will be up for consideration at the next full county board meeting.

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