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County sets conditions, standards for racing in Cedar Lake Arena

After six months of negotiations, St. Croix County officials have approved a special exception, allowing Cedar Lake Speedway to hold some indoor races at its arena.

Concerns about noise levels outside the arena and carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide levels inside were among issues raised as the county's Board of Adjustment considered the special exception request during its February, May, June and July meetings.

The arena at 1120 Old Mill Road in the Town of Star Prairie was built in 2006. The previous operators had authority to use it for some indoor motorcycle riding, said county zoning specialist Alex Blackburn. Now, he said, current operators want to hold other indoor races and applied for a new special exception.

The arena, owned by Derivative Developments LLC, is operated in conjunction with Cedar Lake Speedway, which was founded in 1957.

During the BOA's May 23 meeting, Star Prairie Town Supervisor Scott Counter and Speedway neighbors Gerald Odegard and Annette Noak spoke in opposition to allowing the special exception.

Counter said Town Board members had looked at both sides of the issue and wanted more clarification. The biggest concerns, he said, were air quality and noise levels. He also said maintenance is needed on the pit entrance and there have been complaints that RV owners are dumping their waste on the road on the way out.

Counter said there had been a berm and trees to buffer noise on one side of the property, but although the berm is still there, he wasn't sure how many of the trees remain.

Counter told the BOA that he would like to sit down with both sides and resolve the issues.

Odegard, whose property adjoins the Speedway, asked the county to enforce the noise limits. He said some of the buffer trees have died and he avoids going outside on weekends because of the noise. He said that although the facility isn't open that late, the previous owners kept machinery going until well after midnight.

Noak, who lives near the northeast corner of the property, said the noise level has improved with the new owners, but it could be better. She asked that the noise control and air quality agreements be in writing because, she said, many promises have been made and broken.

After the Feb. 28 hearing, the BOA gave the arena operators permission to hold indoor motocross events during May. In June the board allowed events scheduled for June 29, July 13 and July 27 to be held with the understanding that the applicants would install air quality monitoring equipment and take measurements of carbon monoxide and noise levels from the lot lines during the July 13 event.

At their June 27 meeting, BOA members heard an update and were told that the applicant and county staff would meet again to work out an agreement.

The agreement was reached, and the board approved the special exception July 25. These are some of the conditions:

n A new air quality monitoring system was to be installed by Aug. 1. A Wisconsin Department of Health Services specialist recommended the county use the same numbers for indoor motocross carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide corrective action and evacuation as for indoor ice arenas.

n All motorized racing events held in the arena will be held with the building doors closed and ventilation systems operating as designed.

n The applicants have 30 days to provide the county and town with documentation of the results of noise measurements taken during three typical indoor motorized races. Measurements are to be taken at the east property line during indoor motorized races with the arena ventilation system operating and the doors closed and immediately after each race to establish each ambient noise level.

After the initial testing, sound levels must be measured at least once a year and the result submitted to the town and county. In no event is race noise to exceed 80 decibels.

n The size of any individual event is to be limited to the building's seating capacity of 2,700 spectators.

n Storm water drainage repairs are to be completed within 30 days. A cash compliance deposit of $1,100 will be held by the county until the repair work is done.

n Normal hours of operation for indoor motorsport events shall be 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Special events may be scheduled for up to six weekends a year, but motorsport races are to begin no later than 11:30 p.m. Amplified sound at such events or at the end of racing is to be limited so as not to disturb surrounding property owners.

n The owners must contact county staff to review compliance every two years.

The next indoor racing events are 1-6 p.m. Aug. 24 and 1-6 p.m. Sept. 13 and 14. All three will include quarter midgets and micro sprint car races.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.