Property owner to submit new drag strip plans

SOCIAL CIRCLE -- The property owner seeking rezoning that would permit a drag strip in Social Circle said he plans to withdraw his rezoning request and seek to reapply in 30 to 45 days with amended site plans that should address many residents' concerns.

During a public meeting Wednesday called by property owner Donnie Clack, Michelle Battle, the attorney representing Clack's interests in this matter, said she will seek to withdraw the rezoning request without prejudice, which means that the request can be resubmitted at a later date.

Battle said this would give Clack time to create a "tighter and cleaner package," as well as to see how proposed legislation by state Rep. Doug Holt, R-Social Circle, that would de-annex the property from Social Circle is resolved.

Clack, who is seeking to rezone more than 320 acres situated between Interstate 20 and U.S. Highway 278 from agricultural use to general commercial, plans to construct a motorsports complex that would include a 1/8-mile drag strip on about 120 acres of the land. Most of this property is in Newton County and was annexed into the city of Social Circle in 2008.

Clack's plans have drawn sharp opposition from homeowners whose properties abut Clack's land. Their primary concerns are that the drag strip would bring noise, traffic and pollution to the otherwise rural area.

The Social Circle Planning and Zoning Commission asked Clack in January to present several specific details about noise and environmental impacts before it would consider recommending approval of special conditions necessary to approve the rezoning request.

Clack organized Wednesday's meeting in order to present an alternative site plan for the proposed motorsports complex.

Battle told the group of drag strip supporters gathered in the Community Room that while she believes the drag strip would bring positive economic growth to the community, she also believes it is "our responsibility to hear the concerns of the community and respond to it."

According to the first draft of the revised site plan, the drag strip would be repositioned away from Willow Springs Church Road further west to the interior of the property. Instead of accessing the drag strip directly from U.S. 278, a four-lane parkway would be constructed connecting the highway to the drag strip.

Furthermore, plans for a campground would be eliminated and replaced with softball fields or some other athletic fields to attract families and youth.

"We are responding to (opponents') concerns," Battle said. "My question to them is, what are they willing to do to bend on this issue?"