Originally created 08/28/00

Raceway too loud?

Residents who live near the recently opened Silver Eagle Raceway are displeased by the noise levels at the track.

They say the decibel levels are higher than what is allowed by the rezoning ordinance the Columbia County Commission approved last year. County officials aren't so certain.

Frank Spears, chairman of the Development and Environmental Services Commission, citing data from the Augusta firm that monitors noise levels during races, says that some of the noises being complained about - planes, trains, etc. - boost the decibels, but the speedway shouldn't be blamed for that.

Racetrack president and chief executive officer George Bryan agrees. He claims the track consistently meets or exceeds the county's standards. Maybe he's right, according to the decibel data. But that's not really the point.

What matters is that the track's neighbors find the racket emanating from the speedway uncomfortably loud and that they were promised this wouldn't happen when the commission OK'd the rezoning to allow the races.

There does seem to be a way out of this, however. Much of the controversy centers on interpretation of the data, so Bill Coleman, attorney for the protesting residents, says his clients would accept the findings of an unbiased expert from Georgia Tech's Business and Industry Services Office in Macon.

Bryan was unhappy with the proposal, but Spears was interested enough to ask staffers to set up a meeting with the Tech expert. This is the fair route to take.

But why is all the science necessary? Anyone who doubts the track's neighbors need only go out there and listen on race night.


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