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Council to hear about speedway complaints

An Alien Motor Speedway manager says that steps have been taken to address neighbors’ concerns. Roswell City Manager Joe Neeb told city councilors that information about a citizens’ petition and the business will be presented to them soon, probably in April. (Daily Record File Photo)

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Business manager disputes claims, says steps have been taken to address concerns

Citizens’ concerns about a Roswell motor racetrack are still under review by the city, according to City Manager Joe Neeb.

Neeb said at a March 11 meeting of the Roswell City Council that recently hired Community Development Director Kevin Maevers is gathering information about the Alien Motor Speedway at 1003 S. Atkinson Ave. and about a recent decision by members of the city of Roswell Planning and Zoning Commission not to hold a public hearing on citizens’ complaints. Those include a petition signed by about 169 people asking the City Council or the Planning and Zoning Commission to “rescind the business operating permit until adequate noise buffering has been installed.”

Representatives of the business have disputed the noise complaints, and its general manager also said in a Wednesday interview that he and others have met privately with city officials to discuss the measures that they have taken to address concerns about noise, dust and race curfews.

Neeb told city councilors that information will be presented to them soon, probably in April.

“I know Mr. Maevers is putting that information together to bring it forward and talk about what the decision from the Planning and Zoning Commission was, where we stand with the petition and everything,” Neeb said. “This will be addressed and it will be addressed at the City Council level at this point in time.”

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Neeb’s remarks came in response to comments made by Ward 1 City Councilor Juan Oropesa.

Oropesa said he thought the Planning and Zoning Commission had made a bad decision.

“I was disappointed with the Planning and Zoning because they had advertised that they would consider a hearing on the Alien racetrack, and at the final hour, they decided not to have that hearing for the public,” Oropesa said. “And I think it was a bad decision as far as I am concerned because there was a petition that was given to the Planning and Zoning of individuals that are impacted by the noise, and not so much the noise itself, but the fact that those individuals are going beyond the hours that they agreed not to go.”

In August 2016, the business agreed to cut off races no later than 11 p.m. as one of the terms of receiving a conditional use permit to operate the racetrack on the property, which is zoned light industrial but is also near homes and schools.

“In some cases, they have gone until 1 o’clock in the morning, a couple of times,” Oropesa continued. “And I think since the Planning and Zoning declined to have that hearing, I would hope this council would consider taking that topic up and allowing the people to have their say.”

Oropesa said in a later interview that he lives about 1,600 feet from the racetrack and has called police dispatch a couple of times himself about noise after 11 p.m. and is aware of neighbors who have as well. He also said he gathered signatures for the petition.

“But I took on the action because of the calls I was getting from the neighbors,” he said.

Oropesa added he thinks residents just want the speedway to abide by its agreement to stop races by 11 p.m.

“I don’t think the neighborhood is trying to stop them from running the business. That is not the issue,” he said. “The issue is to make sure that they abide by the agreement that they have agreed to with the city or Planning and Zoning.”

General Manager Jeremy Pipes, who was race director in 2020, said claims that races often have gone on after 11 p.m. is “fabricated.” He said races went beyond the agreed-upon time once in 2020 and that was when they went to 12:17 a.m. one day on Labor Day weekend.

He also said he and others met with city officials last week and went over the steps they are taking to address people’s concerns.

Those include requiring all vehicles to have special mufflers installed to reduce decibels to those similar to street vehicles; having an additional water truck on site to spray down the track and reduce dust; and starting races at 7 p.m., or 6:15 p.m. for the upcoming Labor Day weekend races, to ensure they end by 10:30 p.m. He also said that weekend music events that sometimes have featured loud noise have been moved to other locations and the business plans only one event, the Labor Day races, to last an entire weekend.

“We really shouldn’t have any issues with the noise, dust or curfew anymore,” Pipes said.

He added that the Alien Motor Speedway has many supporters and aims to be a benefit to the community.

“I really want them to know we are for the town,” Pipes said. “We aren’t trying to get rich. We are trying to bring business to hotels and bring some fun and entertainment to the area.”

Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission who spoke on the issue Feb. 23 said they did not want to revoke the permit but they did want the business to comply with the 11 p.m. cut-off time. Some said they supported the business as a fun family activity and preferred the business owners to heed the call to comply rather than have the issue become the subject of a contentious public hearing.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.