Group fights motor sports complex plan
Redevelop Our Area Responsibly (ROAR) intends to fight a developer’s plan to build a motor sports complex at Cooper Stadium.
The group believes that the noise from car and motorcycle races will disturb the surrounding area including Franklinton, and Green Lawn Cemetery.
ROAR and its supporters have sent protest letters to the Franklin County Commissioners, who own the property, and to the Columbus City Council, which must rezone the property if the proposal is to move forward.
“In the event that city council passes the zoning request, that would be detrimental to our neighborhood. I will lead a referendum to take it to the voters,” said Carol Stewart, chair of the Franklinton Area Commission and a founding member of ROAR.
Joseph Sugar, the attorney for developer Arshot Investment Corporation, said, “people are reacting to the concept (or a racetrack) without any information.”
Engineers hired by Arshot are currently working with computer models to redesign the facility to comply with Columbus’ noise ordinance, Sugar said.
“We met with ROAR and told them that we understood their concerns,” Sugar said. “The question is going to be, ‘what is an acceptable noise level and what do we need to do to manage noise at that level?’”
Noise walls will be erected to dampen the sound and the interstate provides a natural sound barrier between Cooper Stadium and Franklinton, Sugar said.
By the end of summer, the engineers should have the sound design completed.
Before Columbus considers the rezoning request, Arshot will visit the Southwest Area Commission (SWAC) to present the completed proposal, Sugar said.
“We will present the best information we can and let the people reach their own conclusions,” Sugar said.
Last year, SWAC sent a letter to Mayor Michael Coleman, the Franklin County Commissioners and Arshot Investment Corporation “requesting that the redevelopment of the Cooper Stadium site be stopped.”
“The main concerns are noise and air pollution and the disturbance of bird migration and nesting areas in the Green Lawn Cemetery and surrounding areas,” the letter stated.
ROAR hired an engineer to conduct its own noise study. The engineer measured current weekend noise levels and will incorporate projected noise levels based on measurements taken from existing racing venues.
Stewart said that ROAR should receive the results soon.
“I expect the study to support our side and I’m expecting their study to also show that the noise as it is now is nothing near (the levels) of a racetrack,” Stewart said.
Sugar said the complex would benefit the community.
“It is 48 acres with no (other) viable use on the horizon,” Sugar said. “It could spur further development and get things to happen in that area. Or the site could sit vacant for a number of years and fall into disrepair.”
The county commissioners have a contract to sell the property to Arshot for $3.3 million contingent on factors including zoning approval from Columbus.
The proposed facility would host a variety of motor sports, but predominantly car races and no plan currently exists for a drag strip. If the venue were successful, only 15 to 20 events per year would be loud races, Sugar said.
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