Motocross track causing uproar in rural neighborhood

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ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. (WCJB) -- People who live in rural Alachua County are upset because motocross racers are using a practice track nearby, and making a lot of noise. It's been a problem for some for the last couple of years.

Neighbors said it's not always this peaceful on County Road 1469 near Melrose.

Al Davis, one neighbor, said, "They'll come and stay like two weeks and they'll run like six days a week, 8 hours a day or 10 hours a day."

The owner of the property, Wesley Lewis, said they do not ride this long. The motocross track was built a couple of years ago by a previous owner from Michigan.

"There were some changes that had been made to the property, grading it to prepare it for the track, that did affect the county roadway," said Zoning Administrator Holly Banner.

It was then sold it to a professional motocross racer. "Now, they got four or five motors out there at one time, it's four or five times the amount of noise it was before," said Davis.

Davis said they called the sheriff's office to file a noise complaint.

"They did go out to the property with our code enforcement staff and they measured noise, at least with the previous owner of the property, with the four wheeler that was racing out there and did not find a violation of the noise ordinance," said Banner.

Davis said, "My four wheeler is standard factory built, standard factory exhaust. these are modified engines, high compression engines with no exhaust."

Neighbors said it's not just the noise. The property's stormwater runoff spills onto the road and neighboring homes, but county workers said the owner brought this issue up to code.

"The ordinances that we studied, say that a racetrack is only permitted in BR-1 zoning by special exception on 50 acres of land," said Davis. "This is agricultural zoning, and it's 17 acres of land."

Banner said there's a gap in county ordinances. "We have a use within our code for motorized sports facilities but that's really supposed to be a commercialized race track where you're charging for services, multiple people are coming, holding races, holding events."

The track is for private use.

Lewis said he spoke with neighbors, who did not seem to be bothered by the noise. He also said they've put extra sound inserts in the mufflers on their ATV's to reduce noise.

Banner said the county is trying to come up with a solution.

"We're hoping that somebody will step forward and help us get our quiet life back together," said Davis.