Opponents of a motocross track near Alix presented “no substantive evidence” of the amount of noise generated by the facility, says the Lacombe County board that heard an appeal of a development permit for Xtreme Raceways.
Also, conflicting accounts from area neighbours of how noisy the track is left the board “unable to determine the degree of impact noise from the track had on the appellants and other individuals opposed to the track,” says the written decision released late last week.
“Furthermore, the county does not have a noise bylaw in place to assist the board in determining what types of noise and noise levels are considered acceptable and unacceptable,” says the board.
The motocross track has become a lightning rod issue in a rural area of rolling hills just southwest of Alix. Frustrated neighbours have complained the weekend races ruin the countryside calm and participants heading to races create clouds of dust on local roads.
The track’s many supporters have praised owners Greg and Michelle Martens for creating a safe and family-friendly environment for motocross enthusiasts and say their business should be given a fair chance to succeed.
The issue came to a head in March when the Martens were required to reapply for a development permit after an existing approval expired. The track was first opened in 2002.
Lacombe County’s municipal planning commission approved a five-year development permit for the track that allowed the operators to add some Sundays of use in July and August in return for cutting back on other hours. A number of area residents appealed that decision.
The April 29 appeal hearing turned into a six-hour marathon and council chambers was packed with about 100 people on both sides of the issue.
Area resident John McClelland, who represents a group of nearly two dozen landowners, took a harder line than previously and called on the board to shut down the track. In the past, the landowner group had said they didn’t want to close the facility, but only wanted to reduce the weekend operating hours to reduce the noise.
The appeal board reversed the additional Sunday operating hours granted by the commission, but approved a five-year development permit that will allow the track to continue operating.
McClelland said on Monday that his group is waiting for legal advice before decided whether to make an application to the Alberta Court of Appeal. The board’s decision can only be appealed on a question of law or jurisdiction.
If an appeal court challenge is impractical, McClelland said they will consider a civil lawsuit on the grounds residents have a right to enjoy their property.
“You’re supposed to be allowed to live in your backyard without any interference,” he said.