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Residents complain about noise near motocross track

March 14, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Implementing a noise ordinance came up again at Thursday's Berkeley County Commission meeting, after two Tomahawk residents expressed concerns about a nearby motocross racetrack.

Commissioners said they hope to enact such an ordinance, using guidelines from the Legislature which allow counties to regulate what they deem to be nuisances. Commissioners already have enacted a vicious dog ordinance under the code.

Tomahawk residents Gary West, who lives on one side of the track, Tomahawk MX, and Steve Tamplin, who lives on another, gave commissioners a packet of information from the Tilhance Creek Area Citizens Association Inc., including a color map of the area and a satellite photograph. West is the president of that nonprofit, recently-formed organization which has 41 members.

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Tamplin told commissioners he hopes they will visit the track, work with organizations like theirs and make sure that if a noise ordinance is formed, existing businesses are not grandfathered in and left unrestricted.

Norwood Bentley, legal counsel for the county, said he does not believe that would happen.

Tomahawk MX opened last fall on more than 100 acres off Tomahawk Run Road.

According to the track's Web site, Tomahawk MX holds competitions and is about to open a six- to eight-mile "Hare Scramble" track.

A race planned this weekend was canceled because of snow on the track, according to a phone recording on the track owner's answering machine. A message seeking comment was not returned.

Although he has not done any decibel testing, West estimated residents of 100 to 150 homes can hear noise from the track, and at least half are hearing what might be harmful levels.

"It sounds like motorcycles without mufflers," West said.

West moved to Timber Ridge in 1994.

"We were more interested in the birds tweeting, the deer and turkeys, listening to the grass grow," West said. "It's been a stark contrast."

Bentley said he is currently drafting a noise ordinance. Before enacting one, commissioners said they plan to hold at least one public hearing, as they did with the vicious dog ordinance.

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