Motocross racing kickstarts today in Columbia County, but not at the dirt bikes' intended home track.
Gordon Park Speedway will be the temporary site for dirt-bike racing starting at 9 a.m. A new site for motocross events in the county should be ready next door in about a month, track owners said.
Columbia County commissioners Tuesday approved a rezoning for a nearly 21-acre parcel at 3165 Gordon Highway, near the speedway, that will allow motocross events.
The first construction phase of the track, to be called Augusta MX, would include building a dirt track and parking lot, according to county documents. Additional building at the motocross track would include a storage building and lighting equipment during later construction phases.
Augusta MX will be run by Chris Folgman and Ralph Hilliard of Georgia MX Track Builders. The duo also manages Gordon Park Speedway.
The rezoning of the Grovetown property to allow the track met some resistance by nearby residents.
Alexander Jackson told commissioners that the track is within 200 yards of the Liberty Hills subdivision, and W.D. Bryson said nearly 200 people live within a half-mile of Augusta MX.
They complained to commissioners that noise levels produced by the motorcycles would be a nuisance for area residents.
"The citizens can just take so much," Bryson said.
However, commissioners agreed with a favorable recommendation by members of the planning and zoning board that a precedent for racing in the area already has been established.
A caveat included in the rezoning approval was that noise levels not exceed 60 decibels when measured 500 yards away from the center of the track. That decibel level is equivalent to a normal conversation taking place between two people standing a foot away from each other, according to www.coolmath.com.
Another restriction included as a condition of approval is that all riding concludes by 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and by 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Commissioners warned the track owners that the approved conditions will be strictly enforced.
"We are aware there may be challenges, but we are willing to work those problems out as they come about," Folgman said.