Citizens from a task force formed to address the county’s noise ordinance were told Monday night to fall in line or the task force would be disbanded. That message came from Tare “T” Davis, chairman of the Warren County Board of Commissioners, at the board’s regular monthly meeting.
During the noise ordinance task force’s initial meeting on May 1, several members charged that County Attorney Hassan Kingsberry was unable to facilitate group meetings due to having a conflict of interest, and a motion was made and seconded for Kingsberry to recuse himself. At the meeting, a five-page formal complaint against Kingsberry was handed to Davis, who was in the audience. The complaint stated that Kingsberry had violated the county and state code of ethics due to exhibiting a conflict of interest and appearance of conflict of interest regarding his relationship to Country Boy’s Racing ATV park in the Afton-Elberon community.
Country Boy’s Racing is what initially brought the county’s noise and high impact land use ordinance to public attention after it opened in late 2017, and what led to citizen complaints from Ken and Deborah Ferruccio and others.
The Ferruccios, who share a dirt driveway with the ATV park, were among citizens who complained to county commissioners starting in early 2018 about loud noise and environmental issues from Country Boy’s. The issues eventually led to county commissioners passing countywide zoning late last year.
During last week’s task force meeting, Kingsberry denied having any type of conflict and said a conflict would be something like having a personal stake in the outcome, which he did not have.
Davis told the group last week that the board of commissioners had appointed Kingsberry to facilitate the meeting and that everyone needed to come together in the best interest of the county.
Monday night, several task force members again addressed the Kingsberry issue during citizen comments.
Ken Ferruccio asked that there be two chairpersons, one representing government and one representing citizens. He asked that Kingsberry step down.
Mary Goode said that she thought it was a conflict of interest to have people on the task force who had complaints concerning the noise ordinance or parties involved in the racetrack. She specifically requested that Ken and Deborah Ferruccio and Rodney Steverson, son of the owner Rodney Steverson of Country Boy’s Racing, be removed from the task force, although other members of the task force have also made complaints about noise and the racetrack.
Deborah Ferruccio also requested two co-chairs for the task force and that Kingsberry recuse himself, not for personal reasons, but for what she said were conflicts of interest.
She said that she was sorry that Goode wanted her off the task force, but that commissioners asked for citizens to serve who were interested in the subject.
The Ferruccios are among nine citizens in the Afton community who filed a lawsuit last fall against Stewart Steverson, Rodney Steverson and Country Boy’s Racing, LLC. Deborah Ferruccio blamed county leadership Monday night for not enforcing a moratorium on ATV parks last spring and failing to be impartial
“You all are largely responsible for this happening, because the Steversons only have done what they’ve been allowed to do,” she said.
Rodney Steverson, owner of Country Boy’s, said he had tried everything in his power to make Deborah Ferruccio happy, and that she had complained about everything from looks to dust to fumes from the bikes.
“It was a good idea, as she stated to me, but it was the wrong location,” he said. “This is a losing fight right here.”
Steverson said he had put a lot of money in the racetrack project, his retirement money, so he was trying to get his money back.
“I got to fight for it,” he said.
Task force member Barbara Espinosa also requested two co-chairs.
When citizen comments concluded, Davis said the board of commissioners believes in inclusiveness between government and the people that government serves.
“It’s so disheartening to me, all the emails, phone calls, backlash, this back and forth,” he said.
Davis asked that task force members come together and do what’s best for Warren County before he issued an ultimatum.
“Before any other actions that come out of that committee that’s negative … to have a good policy when it comes to noise ordinance, I myself will put before a vote before this board of commissioners to disband the entire committee and … get (County Planning and Zoning Administrator) Ken Krulik or the School of Government or whomever to come in and give us a policy,” he said.
Davis restated his threat to disband the task force if members did not come together at the group’s meeting on May 20.
The meeting will be held at the Armory at 6 p.m. It is open to the public.