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Site plan for motocross track approved

November 24, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The Berkeley County Planning Commission Monday unanimously approved a preliminary site plan for a motocross track that has been a point of contention between neighbors and racing enthusiasts for several years.

Opponents of Tomahawk MX at 863 Tomahawk Run Road, near Hedgesville, W.Va., renewed complaints that the racing facility was destroying the environment and degrading their property values, and disputed county planning and engineering staff findings that a stream did not exist in the site plan area.

The site plan was belatedly submitted for approval this year after Berkeley County Planning Director Stefanie Allemong said county officials discovered last year that a permanent building had been constructed on the 110-acre property.

The structure, a storage building powered with electricity, was built in 2004, Allemong said Monday evening.

Attorney Nancy Dalby said the county's site plan review was flawed and suggested adequate buffers were not in place to protect the environment, including wetland areas on the property.

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"I don't know what your looking at for this site review, but it seems to me it doesn't have any relevance to what's actually happening there, and whether or not this is an appropriate activity or business to be placed in the middle of approved residences, approved subdivisions and farmland," Dalby said.

"I'll be looking at that further to see if you have looked at it," Dalby added.

Allemong later told commissioners that a federal review concluded there were no wetlands in the area or a stream, as residents had contended.

Engineer Andy DiMagno said the owner of the racing facility obtained all of the necessary Division of Highways and Department of Environmental Protection permits, beginning in July 2002.

"We do have our permits," DiMagno said. "There are no streams on this property, let's be clear about that ... there are no wetlands, let's be clear about that."

A number of people attending the public hearing in a Berkeley County Commission chambers that was filled to capacity applauded after the Planning Commission voted to approve the plan.

One woman said her children are motivated to do well in school because that earns them the opportunity to go to the racetrack.

"This is their safety net," the woman said of young people who live in the area and need something to do.

Hedgesville-area resident Robert Maguire said he wasn't necessarily opposed to the motocross track, but said the commission had the responsibility to make sure the permitting laws are followed.

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