COVINGTON — County commissioners have amended the zoning ordinance to allow go-kart facilities in certain areas with a conditional use permit.
Although the ordinance applies county-wide, it was spurred by an inquiry from Monroe resident Dan Moore of Atlanta Gran Prix Karting. Moore, a former resident of Rockdale and Newton counties, is looking at three sites for his facility, but won’t reveal their locations. He said he will disclose that when he has a property under contract, something that is necessary before he can apply for the conditional use permit. Once he applies, the location becomes public record and is advertised.
The amendment approved by commissioners Aug. 20 allows go-kart facilities in areas zoned highway commercial, general commercial and light and heavy industrial, with a conditional use permit. Sites must be at least 5 acres.
For outdoor facilities, track operations must be at least 75 feet from any residentially zoned property line, and the BOC can require additional buffers and fencing to minimize the impact to adjacent properties. For indoor facilities, the buffer requirement is 50 feet, or 25 feet with opaque screening adjacent to residential zoning. The buffer requirement increases to 100 feet in property adjacent to overlay districts. Go-kart facilities aren’t allowed in those districts.
Go-karts are limited to one-cylinder engines and must be equipped with mufflers or silencers, and the ordinance requires a sound measuring device to be operational while tracks are in use and sets noise limits.
Moore said he is looking to buy at least 15 acres for his outdoor, 3/4-mile track. He described his business model as focusing on corporate team building events and renting to the general public, with a few racing events. Moore said racing may be offered to track club or league members, but he’s not planning what he called “big-time, national events.”
He expects to apply for the conditional use permit this month and go before the Planning Commission in October. Board approval is the final step. If approved, Moore said he expects construction to take about six months. He may build the track in phases, depending on funding availability.
Moore said the locations he’s considering are all near the interstate to help mitigate noise. While he can meet the noise level requirements of the ordinance, he said the track would cause more of a disturbance in a quiet area.
“There’s a right place to do this and a wrong place. I’m not coming to build a big million dollar operation that’s a nuisance to people and to be a bad neighbor, a bad business. I want to be a good business and a good neighbor and bring stuff to Newton County, and not make people mad at the same time,” he said.
Moore said his track won’t be a typical amusement park attraction. Those tracks are usually between 900 and 1,000 feet long, he said, while his track will be between 3,600 and 3,900 feet long, and 27 feet wide, wider than most two-lane county roads.
“It’s not a Panama City go-kart track,” he said.
A concession stand and pavilion area for events like birthday parties are also planned, and Moore said the track could also be used for relays and bike events.
He’s also looking at including an off-road track track for radio-controlled cars. The cars are about 18 inches long and have gas or electric motors, he said. That track would be between 400 and 500 feet long and would require approval as an accessory use.