Resident asks judge to limit growth at Summit Point Raceway

Those opposing further expansion at Summit Point Raceway say work at the track is adversely affecting property and living condit

Those opposing further expansion at Summit Point Raceway say work at the track is adversely affecting property and living condit

February 04, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Saying work on an expansion at Summit Point Raceway is adversely affecting neighboring property, an attorney argued in court Monday that expansion of the track for anti-terrorism training should be limited.

Attorney Braun Hamstead is representing Valerie Owens, who testified in Jefferson County Circuit Court about living conditions at her Summit Point home since track owners began expanding the adjacent facility.

Owens, who is bringing the case against the track along with her husband Mike Dunkum, said well water at her house has become discolored since construction blasting began at the track.


Owens said trees near her house have been knocked down, which reduces some of the natural sound barrier from gunfire that can be heard at the track as part of the anti-terrorism training.

Owens said the blasting is disturbing, and the work goes on outside her house "Monday through Friday."

"It's ruining the quality of our life," Owens testified during a hearing before Jefferson County Circuit Judge Thomas W. Steptoe Jr.

Owens has asked Steptoe to halt current construction on the track until the matter can be resolved in the courts.

Hamstead said the training facility has placed a "bull's-eye" on Owens' house, and it is not fair to her.

"This is not the place (for this) and the bull's-eye shouldn't be on their back door," Hamstead said.

The Jefferson County Commission agreed to allow the track to expand by 8,700 feet, but Hamstead said the expansion should be limited to 3,696 feet because the computation used to determine how much the track can expand was incorrect.

Attorney Peter Chakmakian, representing track owner Bill Scott, said there was nothing wrong with the computations.

Chakmakian urged Steptoe not to halt work at the track. Chakmakian said he did not think stopping the track construction was an issue of national security, "but I think we all know the importance of this facility."

Scott testified it would cost him at least $18,000 a day in lost business if construction at his track was shut down.

Steptoe did not take action on the requested construction stay, among other issues.

Summit Point Raceway is a 10-turn, two-mile asphalt track located about seven miles west of Charles Town near the southwestern edge of the county.

The track features vintage car and motorcycle racing and other events, but in recent years has become an increasingly popular location for police and other government agencies to receive specialty driving training, Scott has said.

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

During Monday's hearing, Owens presented a petition she said was signed by 350 people who oppose the expansion.

Scott has started construction on the expansion of the track, a project that is expected to cost $5.6 million.

About $3.9 million has been secured for the track, and last week U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., visited the facility and said she would try to find more funding for the expansion.

After the county commission approved a zoning change that allowed the track to expand, Owens and Dunkum appealed the decision to the Jefferson County Board of Zoning Appeals, which denied their appeal.

Owens and Dunkum then appealed that decision to Circuit Court.

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