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Race track may be annexed into the City of Adel

The Cook County Board of Commissioners are so concerned about a request by South Georgia Motorsports Park to be annexed into the City of Adel that the Commissioners have cancelled their Sept. 5 meeting so they can give input at the Adel City Council’s public hearing on the matter.


Some of the Commissioners and citizens from the Cecil area stated during the Commission meeting of Monday that they believe the annexation request is an attempt to end hours of operation restrictions currently enforced by the County.


City of Adel officials would not comment on the issue at this point. However, research was to be done on the City’s noise ordinance. Also, some local officials noted the major local economic impact of the race track.


The Greater Cook Planning Advisory Commission is scheduled to first consider the application at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31, during a meeting at the Cook County Commissioners’ Office on North Parrish Avenue. The Planning Commission will recommend approval or denial of the request to the Adel City Council.


The Adel City Council will then hold a public hearing on the annexation application at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, at Adel City Hall.


County Administrator Faye Hughes told the Commissioners during Monday’s work session that county officials have discussed the issue with Brandon Bowen, the county’s attorney for zoning matters.


“Currently, the race track is not contiguous to any current city limits,” Mrs. Hughes said. She explained that the City could not legally annex property that is non-contiguous because that would be “spot annexation.” However, the City could annex the race track with the County Commission’s approval, she added.


She also pointed out that Williams Investment Co. has filed an application to have property that is located contiguous to the city limits to be annexed into the City of Adel. The property sought to be annexed is located south of Custom Ag Formulators and between the railroad and U.S. Highway 41 to the race track. The request is to annex approximately 40 acres into the City of Adel. (The public hearing dates and times would be the same: 6:30 p.m. Aug. 31 for the Planning Commission to decide on a recommendation, and 5:30 p.m. Sept. 5 for the City Council’s public hearing.) If the City does annex the Williams property, the race track would then become contiguous to the city limits and the City could annex South Georgia Motorsports Park without prior permission from the County Commissioners, Mrs. Hughes said.


Furthermore, she added that the City does not have regulations in place for regulating the hours of operation for a race track and South Georgia Motorsports Park, if annexed into the City, would be “grandfathered in” and may not be subject to any such regulations even if they were created at a later date. “They could run races all night,” said Jeff Lane, who directly represents the Cecil area as County Commissioner.


The County would have no legal recourse, Mrs. Hughes said. “The City would have the legal right to do that (on annexation). The County couldn’t do anything.” She pointed out that the people in that area would still be the County Commissioners’ constituents. Commissioner Lane said he believes the Board of Commissioners should be at the public hearings to state their concerns.


Mrs. Hughes emphasized that she was not bringing up the point about the annexation to take a side on the issue. “Serving in my position as County Administrator, my responsibility is to tell you what legal authority you have,” she told the Commissioners. “I’m just giving you the rules.”


A lot of hard work was done to come up with hours of operation rules that both the race track and citizens could live with, Commissioner Lane said. The goal was to make sure citizens in that area would “be able to go to sleep at a decent hour,” he said.


During citizens’ comments at the regular County Commission meeting on Monday, David Wall, who lives in the Cecil area, questioned why the race track wants to be annexed except to do away with the time restrictions on its operations. That will be “hurting the people of South Cook County,” he said, adding that none of the Adel city officials live “down there to be damaged.” He added, “Jeff [Lane] remembers when they ran races all night long.”


Cecil Mayor James Spencer Sr. and Council Member Ben Pickett were also present at the County Commission meeting. They pointed to the intergovernmental agreement between Adel and Cecil on services in that area and asked whether once Adel annexed the race track, would Adel provide water service and take revenue away from Cecil. “We’re all a part of this establishment,” Pickett said. “It’s like they’re trying to push us aside.” Cecil officials are disputing sewer bills that Adel officials say are owed by the small south Cook County town.


County Administrator Hughes pointed out that the City of Adel hasn’t agreed to annex the race track yet.


Mrs. Hughes asked if Cecil may give up its city charter. Both Mayor Spencer and Pickett said, “No.”


Commissioner Debra Robinson said issues faced by the City of Cecil are also problems for the County. “We try to come up with solutions to help everybody,” she said. “It is our problem because you (Cecil) are part of the county.” Mayor Spencer and Pickett questioned whether the City of Adel or County have helped Cecil.


Steve Nichols, another Cecil citizen, also was concerned about the race track running into the early morning hours. In addition, he asked why his tax bills are for both Cecil and the County, and what services he receives. 

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