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Appeal filed over Summit Point Raceway expansion

August 16, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Summit Point Raceway has been given permission to expand 5,174 feet more than should have been allowed under a zoning change approved for the car racetrack, according to an attorney representing two people who have filed an appeal over the track expansion.

The zoning change approved for the track earlier this year allowed it to expand by another 8,700 feet. But the two Summit Point residents who have filed the appeal - Mike Dunkum and Valerie Owens - want the track expansion limited to 3,696 additional feet.

The zoning change approved by the Jefferson County Commission allowed Summit Point Raceway to expand its track by 35 percent, which is how the 8,700 feet was determined.

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Braun Hamstead, a local attorney who is representing Dunkum and Owens, said the computation used to determine the expansion figure was wrong.

Hamstead said the track is 10,560 feet long. Thirty-five percent of that distance is 3,696.

Attorney Peter Chakmakian, who is representing Bill Scott, the owner of the track, said Hamstead's figures for the length of the track are wrong.

Chakmakian said the track is about 25,300 feet long. Thirty-five percent of that length is about 8,700 feet, said Chakmakian.

In addition to his claim that the math computations are wrong, Hamstead said the track is planning to expand beyond 8,700 feet.

There are plans to add 13,000 feet to the track, said Hamstead.

Chakmakian denied that claim.

Hamstead also said the plans for the track do not show what type of dormitory lodging will be built at the track. Hamstead said he believes the track is required to specify in the plans how the dorms will be used.

Because they are being called dormitories, it is obvious the lodging facilities will be used for people who come to the track for anti-terrorist training, said Chakmakian.

In the zoning change for the track, there are restrictions that prohibit the general public from staying in the dorms, said Chakmakian.

"We have conformed to every detail" of the county's zoning requirements, Scott said Thursday.

The appeal was to go before the Jefferson County Board of Zoning Appeals Thursday afternoon, but it could not be heard because there were not enough members of the board present.

Chakmakian requested that a special meeting of the board be held to consider the appeal so the issue does not stretch out for another four or five weeks.

Hamstead asked that the matter be sent to Jefferson County Circuit Court for a decision. Hamstead said he believes the board of zoning appeals has the ability to send a case to Circuit Court if it cannot make a decision.

Summit Point Raceway is in an agricultural zone and could not expand without the special permission it received from the commission.

In addition to vintage car racing, the track has become a popular location for federal agencies to receive anti-terrorist training.

Scott said he needs to construct an additional track, living quarters, food service facilities and other improvements to meet the increased demand for training at the track.

Some Summit Point residents say the noise from the track has become unbearable, that property values have decreased in the Summit Point area and that the track has no concern for the quality of life in Summit Point.

Residents are concerned about fatal car accidents that have occurred at the track and that such problems will worsen as the track expands, said Hamstead.

"It's not an innocuous activity. It's very dangerous," said Hamstead.

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