Appeal board applies brakes to racing hours at Alix

A motocross track near Alix has been ordered to trim its weekend hours by a Lacombe County subdivision and development appeal board following an emotional hearing earlier in the week.

A motocross track near Alix has been ordered to trim its weekend hours by a Lacombe County subdivision and development appeal board following an emotional hearing earlier in the week.

Xtreme Raceways had been granted longer operating hours and more weekend race days by the county’s municipal planning commission in March, despite opposition from some area residents.

The motocross track has been criticized for being noisy and dusty and a neighbourhood nuisance.

But track users have defended the track as a well-run facility that caters to families and whose operators, Greg and Michelle Martens, have bent over backwards to address local concerns. The issue came before the commission because the previous operating permit had expired.

Lacombe County’s council chambers was packed with about 100 people Wednesday for the appeal hearing, which began at 10 a.m. and did not finish until 5:15 p.m.

The board ruled Thursday that Xtreme Raceways most close two Sundays in each of July and August, reversing a planning commission decision allowing the track to operate three Sundays in each of the two prime summer months.

Track owner Greg Martens was satisfied with the appeal board’s decision. “It wasn’t bad. We only lost two Sundays. We’re happy to be open again.

“I think, all in all, it was a good meeting, a good turnout, and a good reply.”

Martens said the two groups will always have a different view of the issue. “Compromise was the only way.”

John McClelland, who represents about two dozen landowners opposed to the track, said they have mixed feelings about the decision and the granting of a five-year operating permit.

“They rolled back hours some, but not as much as we would like.”

Track opponents plan to wait until they have the appeal board’s written decision and the reasons behind it before deciding whether to appeal again. The next step would be to take their case to the Alberta Court of Appeal.

Those annoyed by the track have taken a harder line lately.

They initially fought to reduce the modify track operating hours to leave more weekends noise-free. But they now want to see the track shut down or moved, said McClelland.

The appeal board also ordered the Martens to split the cost of dust control measures if residents on a nearby road request them.

The Martens were also told to post notices on the Xtreme Raceways website telling patrons to use the designated access roads, to obey speed limits and respect the property of others when driving to and from races.

Some neighbours had complained at earlier hearings that track users were roaring down local roads in their trucks.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com