BROOKSVILLE — For the neighbors of an old sand mine that hugs the southern border of the Croom Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest, the fight ahead is another case of deja vu.
On Tuesday, they will again be before the County Commission to argue that the plans Randy Yoho has for his acreage are going to damage their rural neighborhood and the quality of life in their equestrian-based community.
This time, Yoho is seeking commission approval for a conditional use permit to hold motocross races on a portion of the 36 acres he owns on Remington Road on Nov. 6-7.
About 10 years ago, when Yoho attempted to establish a motocross facility on the old mine, he met a flood of opposition from many of the same neighbors. After an 11-hour hearing in early 2001, the County Commission rejected his plans, citing incompatibility with the surrounding neighborhood, limited access and other issues.
During the hearing, some neighbors said they would even rather see a landfill than a motocross track on the site.
So, Yoho next proposed a construction and debris landfill and the neighbors have been fighting that as well, with backing from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The agency first planned to issue the landfill permit, then withdrew it after discovering the dumping area was too close to private water wells.
Currently, a hearing on the neighbors' challenge in that case is on hold.
In his letter to the county, Yoho describes his plans for a family-oriented motocross event complete with local food vendors, carnival games and races. He estimated a crowd of about 300 people, noting they would bring business to local hotels and restaurants, and explained that some of the proceeds would go to the Kiwanis Club.
Yoho also points to his record of running motocross events at the Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City. "We have a long history of meeting the sound requirements and all other associated codes,'' he wrote.
But the neighbors tell a different tale in a series of e-mails to county planners seeking County Commission denial of the permit for the event.
Larry and Judith Fannin of Fannin Hill Farm said their property is closer to Yoho's than most of the neighbors and they have "experienced the noise from his so-called practice races by 'just friends' to the point that even standing 5 feet apart, I had to yell at the person facing me in order to be heard.''
The Fannins cite limited road access to the property and that Yoho "knew what he was doing when he bought this hole. Please don't make the community suffer for his mistake.''
They also note that the plans for the event will conflict with a United States Pony Club event scheduled at the farm for the same time, which will be "blown away due to the noise of the motorcycles.''
Another opponent, Mary Lou Patton, urged commissioners to reject the permit for the event. "The horsey folk that ride that area, which includes me, and the ones who live there do not need any more of this man's attempts at getting back at the horsey folk who do not want that dump there.''
Others said they are worried that allowing one race would set the community up for a continuing use of the land for motocross events. Twenty-seven year resident Ellis Faught Jr. wrote that the one-time event was a chance for Yoho to "get his foot in the door'' for regular events. He also voiced concern that the event was a commercial one not fit for the rural, residential, difficult-to-access area. Others wanted to be sure current commissioners knew about the precedent set by the previous board.
"It was denied a few years back due to 'incompatible land use, inadequate ingress and egress, a designated springs protection area, possible groundwater contamination from gas and oil spillage, noise pollution and air pollution,' '' wrote Michelle Maternowski. "The reasons and environmental concerns that caused the denial of Mr. Yoho's first permit are still in existence.''
As neighbor Kenneth Culver put it, "Horses and motorcycles just don't mix.''
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.