Infinite-Speed withdraws application for conditional use permit
By Makenna Mays, Staff Writer
After many back and fourths between the Batesville Airport, residents of Batesville, the Area Plan Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals, Infinite-Speed has withdrawn its application for a conditional use permit for its racing events.
Infinite-Speed has been holding racing events at the Batesville Airport on some Saturdays and Sundays. The racing events did have some support, but have met a lot of resistance from Batesville residents who were concerned about safety and noise levels.
A few weeks ago, Infinite-Speed announced it was cancelling a Sept. 22 racing event, and postponing a Half Mile Shootout on Oct. 13 and 14 to a later date.
“Obviously cancelling any event is something that we strive not to do, but in the long run this weighed out to be the better decision,” said Eddie Perry in a statement. “Both the car community and the local community have shown us a ton off support along with many of the Franklin County officials, the last thing we want to do it step on anyone's toes or give them any aggravation caused by us.”
Commissioners granted Infinite-Speed approval to have the racing events at the airport, staff a police detail and limit traffic on Three Mile Road so that it could be used as a return runway for the cars that were racing. Infinite-Speed said these events would help bring money to the county as well as keep the airport open.
Not long after Infinite-Speed's first few events, complaints began to come in from locals about the limited road access and how that would affect farmers and other locals who regularly use Three Mile Road. Soon after, Perry went before commissioners again where they asked Infinite-Speed to take care of some zoning issues and not limit road access or staff police.
This all came to a head at the Sept. 12 Area Plan Commission meeting where an impressive crowd of both those against and in support of Infinite-Speed showed up to voice their opinions.
Taft Stettinius and Hollister LLP attended the meeting on behalf of certain property owners who own property located adjacent to the Batesville Airport and were asking for the APC to deny the petitioner's application for a Conditional Use Permit.
The law firm claimed that the application was legally deficient because of improper zoning, current zoning violations, no improvement location permit or certificate of occupancy, failure to meet landscaping/screening requirements, noise and drainage, erosion and sediment control.
A petition began circulating that had garnered the signatures of more than 300 local residents who opposed the Conditional Use plan for the following reasons:
Infinite-Speed and the Batesville Airport have not taken safety precautions to protect spectators or the homes and fields surrounding the airport and race track. There are no safety barriers. There is a barbed wire fence along the runway, but this will not protect people or property from race cars that go off the track.
The racing activity causes safety issues for people using Three Mile Road due to the increased traffic on race days and because there are no safety barriers to protect people traveling on Three Mile Road from race cars that go off the track.
This is a rural area and the noise from racing activity and spectators as well as the increased traffic disturbs our peace and quiet.
The racing is taking place in an agricultural area. The use is not appropriate for farmland or farm life.
Shorty Whittington and Eddie Perry were both present to defend the use of the airport for these races by discussing the history of runway racing, safety misconceptions, small operational time (125 hours a year), safety and awareness and their rules and regulations. They reiterated the economic impact of the racing and stated they do not intend to disrupt the life of the surrounding property owners.
Perry said that half mile racing gets portrayed as something dangerous and not street legal when that is not the case. He also said that it was one of the safest facilities for this kind of activity around the tristate.
Ultimately the APC sent an unfavorable recommendation (4-2 vote) to the Board of Zoning Appeals. In favor of the racetrack were Bob Braun and Joe Moeller. Immediately after APC, the BZA met and were unable to make a motion on the airport racetrack. The BZA is a five-member board, however Jeff Batchler was absent and there is currently not a Brookville appointed member. Bob Braun spoke in favor of the racetrack while Gary Laker was opposed, so it ended in a stalemate.
“Being completely transparent here, this entire situation flat out sucks,” said Perry in a statement. “I've personally sacrificed a lot to start this company and scheduling changes or cancelled events are the last thing I want to announce to anyone.”
The issue was supposed to be revisited at the Oct. 10 BZA meeting, but Infinite-Speed decided to withdraw their application. Cindy Orschell, director of the APC, said she was not sure why the company decided to withdraw their application as a reason is not required.
Perry's full statement regarding the Sept. 12 APC meeting and the cancelling and rescheduling of events can be found on the Infintite-Speed Facebook page.