• Welcome!
    |
    ||
    Logout|My Dashboard

Citizens file suit against Country Boy’s Racing - The Warren Record: News

Citizens file suit against Country Boy’s Racing

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2018 9:00 am

Nine residents of the Afton area have filed a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction in Warren County Superior Court against Country Boy’s Racing calling for the court system to shut down the racetrack permanently.

According to the legal documents, the suit was filed by Deborah and Kenneth Ferruccio, who live on property adjoining the race facility; and Daphene Herring, David Herring, Allen A. Lawton, Jr., Karen S. Lawton, Jim Ryan, Wadie Ryan and Franklin Wayne Harris, who reside nearby. Listed as defendants in the matter are Stewart Steverson, Rodney Steverson and Country Boy’s Racing, LLC.

Background

The racetrack, billed as an all terrain vehicle recreation park, opened in the fall of last year on Davis Hyman Road in the Afton area. Since then, two opposite opinions of what the facility means to the community have developed. Neighbors describe noise generated by racing events as deafening and nerve-wracking to the point that they cannot enjoy living in their homes. Other Warren County residents view the racetrack as bringing much-needed economic development and leisure activity to the area.

Country Boy’s Racing shares a dirt driveway that leads to the Ferruccios’ home. Early this year, the Ferruccios began expressing concerns to the Warren County Board of Commissioners about noise generated by racetrack activity and traffic blocking the driveway leading to their home.

During a meeting of the Warren County Board of Commissioners in April, Rashawn Steverson, son of Country Boy’s Racing operator Rodney Steverson, said that the racetrack was established as a safe space for dirt bike and ATV riders to enjoy their sport out of harm’s way and without trespassing on private property while riding. He added that the racetrack helped meet a local demand for activities for Warren County citizens, especially youth, and boosted the motorsport culture for both riders and spectators.

In April, county commissioners enacted a 90-day moratorium on all-terrain vehicle and dirt bike racing parks. Since that time, community citizens groups have held meetings which generated a call for the county to find an alternative site for Country Boy’s Racing away from residential areas and have sparked a renewed call for the adoption of countywide zoning to bring about more stringent regulations on development allowed in the local area, particularly near private residences.

The legal action

Through the complaint and motion for preliminary injunction, the plaintiffs claim that noise generated by the racetrack make their homes, which are up to 2.5 miles away, “virtually uninhabitable.”

The complaint alleges that the racetrack opened with no advance notice given to residents of the surrounding Afton community.

The plaintiffs also claim that hundreds of people have attended weekend races, sometimes blocking passage across a private unpaved path shared by both the Ferruccios and racetrack. The complaint alleges that some race attendees have “taunted, harassed and screamed epithets at some of the plaintiffs” as they tried to cross the path to reach their property.

The motion for preliminary injunction contains statements from individual plaintiffs, all of whom say that they settled in the Afton area seeking a quiet, peaceful setting in which to live.

The Ferruccios state that they now try to avoid traveling from their home during racetrack operations due to the feeling of being threatened by race crowds blocking the shared entrance path, and glaring and jeering by race crowds. The Ferruccios also claim that they have received a threat on social media due to their opposition to racetrack operation.

According to their statement, the Herrings have observed ATV traffic along Largo Road, where they reside, since fall 2017. Activity slowed down over the winter, but resumed in early 2018.

David Herring describes an incident in which three ATVs were traveling down Largo Road. One driver lost control and spun out on the Herrings’ property. David Herring said he noticed the smell of alcohol on two of the three ATV riders.

The Lawtons state that noise from ATVs, dirt bikes and music coming from the racetrack prevents them from relaxing inside or outside their home during race events. They claim that they have received hang-up phone calls coming from a phone number associated with a member of the family operating the racetrack after Karen Lawton called the county to discuss the couple’s concerns.

The Ryans state the ATV and dirt bike drivers traveling down the highway pose a safety hazard to themselves and others. They state that they have tried to live peacefully with their neighbors at the racetrack, but crowds at Country Boy’s Racing “are inconsiderate and have destroyed our peace of mind and enjoyment of our lives.”

Franklin Wayne Harris stated that his property uses Davis Hyman Road as an access easement. He stated that he and does not know how he will be able to enjoy the outdoor activities he previously enjoyed on his property having to wade through the groups of people on the road.

Through the complaint, the plaintiffs are requesting a trial by jury to determine if a permanent injunction should be issued to close Country Boy’s Racing.

Defendants’ response

Earlier this week, attorney Bernadine Ballance, on behalf of the defendants, filed a motion to continue, stating that Stewart Steverson, Rodney Steverson and Country Boy’s Racing had just three business days to obtain legal counsel to file response to the injunction that would effectively close the business.

Ballance states that her involvement in the matter is limited to seeking a continuance and helping the defendants file preliminary responses in the case. She requested a continuance of at least 20 days to allow time for the defendants to retain an attorney to represent them as the legal matter moves forward.

Ballance includes within her motion for continuance a June report to Hassan Kingsberry, county attorney, based upon a study of Country Boy’s Racing to address concerns raised by the board of commissioners in enacting the temporary moratorium on racing facilities. The report states that the business had made plans for security at the venue that would prevent the park access road from being blocked; posted signs prohibiting alcohol use and littering, and requiring adult supervision of children; added trash cans and addressing other issues. The report adds that Country Boy’s Racing would be willing to move the starting line for races to another area of the park to minimize noise for residents living close to the facility.

The motion to continue includes statements by both Rodney and Stewart Steverson.

Rodney Steverson states that he opened Country Boy’s Racing Park in October 2017 on his property as an ATV and dirt bike racetrack. He adds that the park, which is closed during the winter, is open to the public no more than once or twice a month on Sundays from 1-7 p.m., and bike racing is held from 3-5 p.m.

Steverson states that he spoke to three Warren County commissioners before opening Country Boy’s Racing, and they said the business would be good for the county and would be a revenue-generator for the area. Steverson adds that the racetrack complies with county noise ordinances and that there is no county zoning to prohibit the racetrack.

He states that before he constructed the racetrack, he spoke with Deborah Ferruccio about his plans and ways to minimize the impact of noise, and she said they could talk again to work things out.

Steverson says that he is unaware of a legal document granting an easement to the Ferruccios to allow them to cross his property to reach their homes, and cites an alternative road they could use.

Steverson also states that there are people living adjacent to the racetrack who have not complained about the park or noise. He adds that trash is removed from the park and the site cleaned after each race.

Steverson claims that photographs including in the plaintiff’s motion that appear to depict littering at the racetrack were from a private gathering, not a race event. He accuses the plaintiffs of overturning the trash cans in order to stage the photos.

In his statement, Stewart Steverson says that he has no ownership interest in Country Boy’s Racing and does not understand why his name was included in the lawsuit.

While the motion to continue allows the case to be filed on the Warren County Civil Superior Court docket at a later date, nothing has been scheduled at this time.

Stocks