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Judge allows track work to continue

A Jefferson County judge ruled that any expansion work not already started can't begin until a court case is resolved.

A Jefferson County judge ruled that any expansion work not already started can't begin until a court case is resolved.

February 26, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Any planned expansion of a Jefferson County racetrack and driver's training facility not already under way cannot begin until a court case challenging the project is resolved, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Thomas W. Steptoe Jr. ordered any additional work at Summit Point Raceway to be suspended as part of a case brought against the track by Valerie Owens and her husband, Mike Dunkum.

Owens and Dunkum want the car racetrack to be limited in its ability to expand for anti-terrorism training.

Owens has complained about adverse living conditions at her Summit Point, W.Va., home since track owners began expanding the facility.

Owens said well water at her house has become discolored, trees have been knocked down and blasting in the area has been disturbing.

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Owens and Dunkum are challenging a Jefferson County Board of Zoning Appeals' decision to uphold the approval of a site plan review for the track.

Braun Hamstead, an attorney representing Owens and Dunkum, asked Steptoe in a Feb. 3 hearing to stop current construction on the track until the case can be resolved.

In view of the fact that respondents in the case have acknowledged they are "proceeding at their own peril" on work that is under way, that work will not be halted, Steptoe ruled.

However, any construction that had not started as of Tuesday cannot begin, Steptoe said.

The Jefferson County Commission agreed last year to allow the track to expand by 8,700 feet, but Hamstead believes it should be limited to 3,696 feet.

Hamstead said the track expansion needs to be limited to that number because he believes the computation used to determine how much the track can expand was wrong.

Construction started on the track last fall even though all the funding has not been lined up for the project, said Bill Reichardt, vice president of business development at the track.

Additional living quarters, food service facilities and other improvements are planned for the track to facilitate expanded anti-terrorist training.

Track owner Bill Scott has said that construction of the dormitory facilities would be done later.

The only remaining issue before the court is the legality of the zoning appeals board's decision to uphold the site plan approval for the track, Steptoe said in the order.

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

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

Phone calls to Scott and Hamstead were not returned Tuesday night.

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