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Cook County, GA Economic Development Commission



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Race track officials explain annexation request

South Georgia Motorsports Park officials say very clearly why they want the race track to be annexed into the city limits of Adel.


The application submitted by SGMP states: “We wish to annex into [the] City under their current zoning ordinance, which has no hours of operation ordinance.”


Chris Davis, SGMP general manager, told the Adel News that neither he nor the owner Ozzy Moya will run races all night in Cook County, but the current County ordinance under which the race track faces penalties for running over 11 p.m. after a number of violations is too restrictive. The County Commission extended the deadline to stop races by one hour to midnight, but then returned to 11 p.m. after concerned citizens in that area spoke out to the Commissioners. That one hour change is why the race track is now making the annexation request to the City of Adel, Davis said. “If the County hadn’t taken that hour away, we wouldn’t be going through this today. … If this curfew is lifted, our intent is not to run all hours of the night. We will still cut it off at a reasonable hour. Has the race track run all hours of the night (under the current management and ownership)? No.”


Stopping the events at 11 p.m. for certain high participation races has caused SGMP to lose racers for subsequent events, he said.


Under the County’s hours of operation ordinance, the race track may exceed the 11 p.m. curfew three times a year without penalty. Beginning with the fourth violation, they are subject to a $1,000 fine. A sixth violation could result in the County closing the race track.


SGMP has confirmed the “No Mercy” event for Oct. 5- 8, which in the past has drawn 15,000 to 20,000 people to this community. SGMP would like to host the “Lights Out” event again in February and then add a “Sweet 16” race in March, under the same promoter.


However, in light of the hours of operation issue, the promoter is considering no longer bringing the events to Cook County and instead taking his business to a Bristol, Tenn., race track, Davis said. “Those events are at stake right now.”


If SGMP loses those two or three biggest races of the year, the owner may have no choice but to shut the race track’s doors and sell out, according to Davis. That is why he believes the annexation is key to SGMP’s success, and even survival.


If SGMP closes, the County will lose approximately $50,000 a year in property taxes, as well as the race track’s tremendous boost to the local economy in such areas as local hotel/motel lodging and purchase of gas and meals in restaurants, Davis said. Economic development officials estimate SGMP’s annual economic impact on the community at $22 million.


Meanwhile, Davis added, SGMP has had to spend more than $100,000 to rebuild in the wake of the Jan. 22, 2017, tornado. More than 1,000 feet of fencing and light poles had to be replaced. Repairs have been underway on spectator viewing suites which had the roofing ripped off. Three dirt track races had to be canceled in the tornado’s wake. “Our insurance didn’t cover wind damage,” Davis said. “FEMA doesn’t help businesses.” The reduction in racer participation due to the hours of operation only places more financial pressure on SGMP, he said.


Davis recalled that despite the heavy damage at SGMP, the business became the staging ground for people from across the country to help at tornado-ravaged Sunshine Acres Mobile Home Park. The concession stands were even used to feed the disaster relief volunteers. The Cook County Board of Commissioners are so concerned about the request by South Georgia Motorsports Park to be annexed into the City of Adel that they have cancelled their Sept. 5 meeting so they can give input at the Adel City Council’s public hearing on the matter. Some citizens from the Cecil area have told the Commissioners that noise from unrestricted race track hours would interfere with their home life in the evenings.


The Greater Cook Planning Advisory Commission is scheduled to first consider the annexation 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.


Davis said supporters of the race track plan to attend the Planning Commission and City Council meetings and have their voices heard as much as the critics’ concerns. SGMP pays taxes and its interests should be represented before the public boards, he added.


According to Davis, SGMP would end up paying more in taxes by being in the City of Adel, but some added benefits would include 24-7 coverage by the Adel Police Department, 24-7 coverage by the Adel Fire Department, and garbage pickup. “It will be a win for us, but it also will be costing us,” he said. He did note that being part of Adel will bring more publicity to the race track.


With 380 acres on the grounds, SGMP would like to be available for large community events, such as concerts and a county fair, Davis said. “It’s all about working together to better this community.”


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.

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