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Thread: Dirt bike/motocross track in residential area

  1. #1
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    Dirt bike/motocross track in residential area

    I have read other threads on this subject but could not find an answer pertaining to this specific situation.

    Need some advice on how to proceed in the following situation:

    A dirt bike track, zoned residential, is right next to a subdivision. The track runs parallel to several people's backyards and causes problems for the entire neighborhood. Noise and dust is a huge problem for the entire neighborhood. People in the neighborhood have called the police many times about the noise and dust and the police have cited the owners several times, fined them for everything including noise/dust/disturbing the peace or whatever the police could think of, and the owner's have been arrested for it. This has not stopped the problem nor made it any better.

    The people that ride on the track range in age from 3 years old up to adults. The owners allow other people on their track as well as we see many trailers in their yard unloading dirt bikes to ride on the track. Don't think that they are charging to them to use the track, but I highly doubt that the people they have to ride are all family members. They will ride all day long with little or no breaks. This makes it unbareable for the neighborhood people to even go outside and enjoy their yards or the park that is within their subdivision. Not to mention INSIDE the house, with all the doors and windows closed people can still hear the dirt bikes and have to turn up the TV to drown out the noise.

    There is no noise ordinance in the city, but their land is within city limits and is zoned residential. We've talked to the police and they said that they (the police) are getting in trouble by the judge because the judge doesn't understand what it is really like, with the noise and dust, and the judge just thinks that people are complaining about a noisy lawn mower. The judge is ultimately throwing out every single case that comes to him since he is relating the noise of a full out race bike to the noise equivalant of a lawn mower (which obviously it is not!). The police have said to get a lawyer and file a civil suit against the owner. Is there anything else that can be done without getting a lawyer to make all of this stop?

    Just can't believe that in a residential neighborhood this is allowed to go on especially since that land is zoned residiental and NOT AG!

    I would like to know what other's have done or tried to put a handle on this situation? Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Here is a thread that is very similar to your issue: ATV or motocross track

    I feel bad for your situation, and I am glad I live/work in a dense urban environment.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by mendelman; 16 Apr 2007 at 3:24 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian vagaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jacinda165 View post
    I have read other threads on this subject but could not find an answer pertaining to this specific situation.

    Need some advice on how to proceed in the following situation:

    A dirt bike track, zoned residential, is right next to a subdivision. The track runs parallel to several people's backyards and causes problems for the entire neighborhood. Noise and dust is a huge problem for the entire neighborhood. People in the neighborhood have called the police many times about the noise and dust and the police have cited the owners several times, fined them for everything including noise/dust/disturbing the peace or whatever the police could think of, and the owner's have been arrested for it. This has not stopped the problem nor made it any better.

    The people that ride on the track range in age from 3 years old up to adults. The owners allow other people on their track as well as we see many trailers in their yard unloading dirt bikes to ride on the track. Don't think that they are charging to them to use the track, but I highly doubt that the people they have to ride are all family members. They will ride all day long with little or no breaks. This makes it unbareable for the neighborhood people to even go outside and enjoy their yards or the park that is within their subdivision. Not to mention INSIDE the house, with all the doors and windows closed people can still hear the dirt bikes and have to turn up the TV to drown out the noise.

    There is no noise ordinance in the city, but their land is within city limits and is zoned residential. We've talked to the police and they said that they (the police) are getting in trouble by the judge because the judge doesn't understand what it is really like, with the noise and dust, and the judge just thinks that people are complaining about a noisy lawn mower. The judge is ultimately throwing out every single case that comes to him since he is relating the noise of a full out race bike to the noise equivalant of a lawn mower (which obviously it is not!). The police have said to get a lawyer and file a civil suit against the owner. Is there anything else that can be done without getting a lawyer to make all of this stop?

    Just can't believe that in a residential neighborhood this is allowed to go on especially since that land is zoned residiental and NOT AG!

    I would like to know what other's have done or tried to put a handle on this situation? Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks!

    Just curious as to which was there first - the track or the residential neighborhood? Are both the track and the residential neighborhood in the city. If so, propose that the City Council adopt a noise ordinance. If adopted, this would solve the problem. When the property owner (track) starts getting fined a few hundred dollars a day, that should send the message.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally posted by vagaplanner View post
    Just curious as to which was there first - the track or the residential neighborhood? Are both the track and the residential neighborhood in the city. If so, propose that the City Council adopt a noise ordinance. If adopted, this would solve the problem. When the property owner (track) starts getting fined a few hundred dollars a day, that should send the message.
    The track was there first. As to how long it was there before the neighborhood, I'm not sure. Just because the track was there first doesn't make it right that they are allowed to continue to make all this noise considering now people live here now. The owner of the track even told us that he was afraid that this day would come soon, that people would live up here by him and he would have problems. This area that we now all live in is a huge up an coming area. Tons of homes and businesses are being bulit and this city is quickly turning less and less country by the day.

    The neighborhood and the track is within city limits. The police and the zoning officer say that there is nothing that they can do even though the track is zoned residential and within city limits. I have just recently found out that there is another track not even 10 mins away from us that someone has in another residential neighborhood. They have taken their complaints to the city and the city is trying to adopt a noise ordinance BUT the city says that it will violate the rights of the ATV riders because basicly it will force them to stop doing what they like to do. Well, what about everyone else's rights to live in a noise free environment? We all like to enjoy the outside and sit in our backyards in peace, but can't because of the noise. So what happened to our rights?

    The owner of the track has been fined on a daily basis and then they went to court to fight it and won. They won because no one from the neighborhood was allowed to testify to say how bad it really is. The judge just thought that it was one bike that sounds like a noisy lawn mower that people were complaining about, so the judge just threw the case out. We have to PROVE to the judge that this is not the case.

    I'm sure that the city is going to have to adopt a noise ordinance soon, especially with all these plans from the city to bulid homes all around the track, and a school right across the street. I don't see how they can continue to do this when more and more and more people are going to be living by them and complaining about the noise and dust. We just wish that it would happen sooner than later.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jmf's avatar
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    I guess the more specific question is -

    Was the track there legally under the Zoning By-law or was it illegal from the very start?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian solarstar's avatar
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    We had a really innovative neighbor videotape a noisy adjacent project. When he played the tape for the board, the sound was very clear and the time stamp on the videotape (very early in the morning) really helped sell his complaint. Maybe that would help with your judge?

    A new noise ordinance shouldn't shut down the track, but may be able to stop it from going at all hours of the day and night. A dust ordinance would be similar, but the city/county attorney may not support any retroactive enforcement on an existing use. When people move in next to something like that, it should be obvious that it isn't going away. I don't think the subdivision has a lot of alternatives since they came in after the track was established. The subdivision owners may be able to get together and put up a noise wall, and it's possible the track owner may help with that just to stop these lawsuits. But it's kind of like when you build next to an airport - it's not going to go away just because a resident chose to live next to it.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally posted by jmf View post
    I guess the more specific question is -

    Was the track there legally under the Zoning By-law or was it illegal from the very start?
    We are not sure since no one really knows when the track was actually bulit. But their land is zoned single-family residential...the same as the entire subdivision. The zoning officer said that they are infact zoned residential, and they are not supposed to have a track on land zoned residential, but the judge did not even care about how the land was zoned at the time of their hearing. This was about 2 years ago that they were in court.

    We are video taping now and have bought a decibel meter to take measurements throughout the neighborhood to show the city/judge that this is a real problem. Yes, everyone in the neighborhood knew about the track before we moved in, but, the track 2 years ago was nothing like it is today. When we moved in they were only riding 1-2 bikes at a time and they were the small 50cc bikes that barely made any noise. Today they are riding 7-8 bikes at a time all huge 4-stroke engines. You can't even go outside and have a normal conversation with someone because of the noise.

    The state has a law stating that you cannot have more than 70dB 25 feet from any property line. The dB reading 50ft away from a property line is 80dB, and that was only 1 bike! So since no one lived by them for years, they were allowed to get away with it. Now that people live there this law needs to be enforced. Just because they were there first and no one was living around them, doesn't make it right to break the state noise nuisance law. But who's going to complain? No one. But now that the subdivision is there, with many more on the way, there's a problem. People are complaining because they are breaking the law but the city won't do anything about it. We need to find out how to get the state law enforced.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Plan 9's avatar
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    Perhaps the City Attorney can appeal the judge's decision?

    Or perhaps the City should be taking the problem on as a land use issues instead of noise compliant. The noise is just a symptom of the land use conflict. If the City can show that the track was not legally established it would be easier to get rid of, otherwise you may be looking at an existing non-conforming use, which would be much harder to get rid of.
    "Future events such as these will affect you in the future."

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    I am just a citizen, not a professional but does your city have a public nuisance ordinance? If so, sounds like the track certainly falls into what is considered to be one. Perhaps that is a place to start. Follow the abatement process to the T.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian vagaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jacinda165 View post
    The track was there first.

    I don't see how they can continue to do this when more and more and more people are going to be living by them and complaining about the noise and dust. We just wish that it would happen sooner than later.

    Sorry, but if I was the judge, I would say that you should have known the track was there before you bought the property. The same goes for the people that continue to move there. Not to say that there shouldn't be an ordinance to limit the hours of the track operation, but for you to ask that the use be restricted entirely, when it was there before you is rediculous. You shouldn't have moved there.
    ...my lifestyle determines my death style!
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  11. #11
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    Feelin your pain.
    CIVIL SUIT...

    If the track was there first and people built they should have known.

    Evidently that land use did not affect the value of the homes that were built. So you con't use that. It is issues like this that we really must step back and let the two parties that are upset take it to court.

    We had an issue where people from across the county line bought some land for a track. They asked permission for a CUP to race sanctioned races. They were turned down and then they proceeded to ride on their own land with their friends. So be it... As a county we got pulled into the court case but they had to let use out because they had other recourse, civil suit.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I just ran across this exact same thing. We shut them down based on several things.

    First of which was the intent. The original intent was for the property owners to ride their personal bikes on the track. It then was opened up to the public.

    Second was the noise. More than one or two bikes on the track caused the noise limits to exceed the allowable level at the nearest residential property. (Which was his sister)

    Based on these two, he needed to go to the ZBA in effort to get a favorable interpretation that the track was a “Non-for-profit recreational facility” which is permitted by special use requiring Planning Commission Approval. The applicant was requested to include a copy of the bylaws and proof of having 501-C3 status. He was not bale to and they did not get the interpretation they requested.

    If they did, the PC would have looked at it the exact same as the little league. Paved parking lot, paved driveway able to accommodate two way traffic, fire hydrants, storm water retention, restroom facilities, and hooking into the city water and sewer system.... the site is 2000 feet from the nearest line.

    He has gone back to him and his kids riding on their track and we have had no complaints.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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