February 12, 2008- Approximately 60-70 Blanco County citizens packed the courtroom and the surrounding hallway in order to address the issue of a proposed Motorsport track on the Blanco County Commissioners agenda. The standing room only crowd attended the court in order to show group consensus and address concerns related to a potentially proposed racing track to be potentially located within the county. A few of the group’s members addressed the court for three minutes apiece.
Nora Brown, a self-proclaimed “newcomer,” having been in the county for five years, compared the Motorsport venture to “a giant snake that just slithers away every time we try to kill it.” She asked the Commissioners to “help us kill that snake and protect what Blanco County has.”
Property owner Dave Collins, from Precinct 3, asked the Court to withhold its endorsement of the speedway “if and when they ask” for help from the Commissioners. Citing a 2000 survey, Collins reminded the Court that when asked “What do you want for the future of Blanco County”, citizens voted as their number one choice “Maintain rural quality of life and to protect ground water.” Collins went on to say that “clearly, a motorsports racetrack does not do these things. I urge reconsideration,” he said, “and I request a ‘no action’ vote.”
During his allotted three minutes, Lance Wismass, representing several landowners owning “hundreds of acres in Blanco County” passed out copies of a resolution he had drafted for the Court as well as presenting letters to the Court written by two citizens who were unable to attend the Court session, Suzy Burke and Andrew Roberts.
“Some plans show the speedway will be open to as many as 20,000 spectators,” Wismass said. “Local citizens will benefit very little, if at all, from the racetrack,” he claimed. “This racetrack will cater to the wealthy in Austin. Any benefit is to the wealthy of Bexar and Travis Counties. We are very concerned about the noise and impact to our property.”
According to Wismass, the proposed developer of the racetrack is saying “If the County does not want it, we will not kick up dust.”
Wismass presented the Court with a one page proposed resolution. Using language describing how “landowners value the scenery, natural resources, cultural resources, peace and quiet that comes with living in rural Texas, the Hill Country and particularly within Blanco County,” the proposed resolution gave an overview of why the motor racetrack should not be allowed into Blanco County.
“Motorsport Resorts International currently proposes and other heretofore unidentified entities may propose in the future to build and operate an auto racing facility in Blanco County,” the resolution said, “and a large sum of Blanco County citizens have expressed their undivided opposition to the subject motor sports project and because the project will undoubtedly have negative aesthetic and sound conditions on and conflicts with surrounding residences and lands; and the developers and promoters of the motor sports racing facility have in open meetings indicated their willingness to locate the subject project outside of Blanco County and its communities if so desired and requested by the landowners, residents and leadership of said county and communities.”
The Preserve at Walnut Springs General Manager, Paul Sumrall, attended the meeting in order to show his personal disapproval of the proposed raceway, as well as representing the wishes of the Walnut Springs landowners. “I keep in close touch with my property owners,” Sumrall said. “Among many other things, we are all very concerned with light pollution of our properties should this racetrack be allowed to be built within our county.”
After the discussion, Judge Guthrie said “We hear you. Loudly.”
Guthrie explained that the item was on the agenda for “Information Only” and that the County Attorney has advised them to have “no resolution; either for or against.” Guthrie also assured everyone attending the meeting that he has been “assured by the owner of the property, Mrs. Hayes, that there is no contract on the land in question.”
“This is the third trial proposal that this gentleman, Mr. Steve Paddi, has made in our county. I can assure you,” Guthrie told the citizens, “we have the same concerns about this that you have. At this point, nothing has been presented to us.”
“We understand and we do hear you,” Guthrie said.
During the meeting, Commissioner Mauck added that “I appreciate every one coming out today.”
Following the meeting, citizens discussed in the hallway how “so far we haven’t found anyone that’s for it.” Jerry Wenmohs of Round Mountain added that it’s been “the talk around town for over 60 days.”
Ronald Fieseler, General Manager, Blanco-Pedernales Groundwater Conservation District, said that this is “another hot button issue.”
“They’ll need to jump through a lot of hoops to get this going,” Fieseler explained. “The race track people are merely talking dreams and desires at this point. We can’t talk about anything till we have paper in hand. There’s a step by step process and we aren’t even to step one. They would need to meet stringent state and county requirements.”
Steve Paddi, the race track developer, has spoken with Fieseler “several times asking questions in reference to waste and septic for building on the site.” Fieseler added that there is a website regarding Motorsport Racing that citizens may reference through “Google.”
Commissioner Sultemeir added that “there’s nothing on paper. It’s just talk. There are a lot of questions about this entire thing.”
Other business conducted during the meeting included extending the burn ban an additional 90 days, till May 12; presentation by JP4 Bob Riley of a $10 fee for copying autopsy reports with discussion and approval; authorization for road and bridge employee advertising for Precinct 4; and approval of payroll, official reports, outstanding bills, and minutes of the prior meeting.
The court adjourned at 9:30.