DADE CITY — Pasco commissioners will allow a professional motocross racer and as many as four teammates at a time to continue training on a practice course he expanded without the county's permission.
In a 4 to 1 vote Tuesday, Pasco commissioners granted Lake Jovita resident Chad Reed a conditional use permit for his motocross facility located on agricultural-zoned property about halfway between Dade City and Zephyrhills.
Reed received approval for two indoor tracks on 4 acres back in 2004, which allowed as many as three riders at one time. But last year he began building a third course — dirt tracks and jumps meandering through 11 acres — without going back to the county.
"He had no conception that violated the (original) site plan approval," said Reed's attorney, Joel Tew, who noted that his client had been cited and fined.
Neighbors, who have hired attorneys, complained about the screeching bikes, the construction and the impact on their property values.
"If you were out there, you'd understand why my wife and I are outraged over this behavior," Karol Klein, who lives on Duck Lake Canal Road, told commissioners. "He has disregarded you folks, totally."
Commissioners argued that by granting Reed the conditional use, however, they could control the hours of operation (no riding on Saturdays and Sundays) and his ability to market the land if he ever sells it (the permission to have the practice facility would leave with him).
By contrast, if they denied him, they said, Reed could still use the two previously approved tracks — without the new conditions. And they said that if Reed took the county to court over the denial, a judge may side with him and also require no special conditions.
"In my mind, I think you're better off," Commissioner Ted Schrader told residents.
Tew told commissioners that Reed and his teammates have sophisticated bikes, with time logs that last year registered 52 total hours of operation, he said. The tracks are not open to the public, and Tew said Reed bought the land solely as a place to train.
"They don't go out there to play," said Tew. "This is work."
Leonard Johnson, a lawyer for the neighbors, said the motocross facility had become a commercial endeavor. He summed up Reed's case as: "Approve my professional training course, which by the way I've already built."
Reed, who did not attend Tuesday's meeting, will be required to pursue a site plan for the third track as part of Tuesday's approval. The rest of the nearly 25-acre site will be used for drainage, green space and buffering.
Chairwoman Pat Mulieri dissented, saying she thought it gave too much preferential treatment to Reed.
"Joe Schmoe comes in here, and he has to follow the procedures," she said.
If Reed fails to abide by the conditions set by the county, he can get his approval pulled.
"I think Mr. Reed has a lot of fence mending to do with the neighbors," said Schrader.
Jodie Tillman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247.