Much news has been made about the National Corvette Museum’s problems with the Warren County code enforcement board after local residents complained about the noise coming from the Motorsports Park race track. Through it all, the NCM has largely been quiet while lawyers and sound engineers have gone to work on their behalf.
Last week, we learned the Enforcement Board issued the first fine of $100 to the Museum and we were disturbed to read the quote from Steve Hunter, executive director of the planning commission who gave the reason for the first fine: “Enough is enough,” Hunter said. “We could have issued the fine in the 25th hour, but we have been trying to work with them.”
The fine comes on the heels of a meeting held the same week between the board and Museum officials, their attorneys and the sound engineers who have been studying the noise and are working on a plan that best reduces it for the nearby residents of Clark Circle. We learned that NCM lawyers told the board that the noise reduction berms originally agreed to in the Binding Elements prior to start of construction might not help as much as a new plan put forth that is based on actual sound measurements from the track.
As someone who’s been following the issue since Day 1, the actions of local government officials makes us wonder if the county enforcement board is truly trying to work with the Corvette Museum.
After each time the NCM has either met with the board or local residents, the board has used the threat of fines and closure to ensure that the NCM bends to its will. Claims that the National Corvette Museum leaders aren’t being good neighbors is just so out of character from the people that we know personally, it makes the actions of the County board look even more suspect.
The National Corvette Museum tells us they’ve been diligently working to address the noise issues for the local residents and offered these facts on the case to make their position clear:
- In 2013 before construction on the track facility began we had a sound study performed by experienced acoustical engineers. Their report indicated that track operations would not cause a “substantial increase” in the noise as compared to the existing noise from I-65. So we did not feel that it was necessary to build a berm or noise abatement structure. The Binding Elements for the property indicate that the intent of the Binding Element was that the property not create a “substantial increase” in the noise.
- We did not obtain a certificate of occupancy before starting operations because there were no buildings at that time. We did not feel, nor were we told that a certificate of occupancy was required. We did obtain a certificate before opening the first building – our garages and pavilion.
- We have had some events over the last year that are racing events which cause a higher level of noise. This was not modeled in the original sound study. Outside of that, we believe that all of our normal events are not causing a substantial increase in the noise.
- We truly had received only a handful of noise complaints prior to May 15, 2015. It appears that the neighbors had complained to local government officials, but we were not made aware of that until May 15.
- We hosted a neighborhood meeting on June 9th to help us understand the problem better. As a result, we hired a new reputable acoustic engineering company. This company met with us and with representatives of the neighborhood. They have been monitoring the noise 24/7 and are developing a sound abatement design to keep us within the substantial increase levels based on the worst case racing event. The neighborhood representatives agreed at that time that we did not need to close the park, even though we had received a notice of violation. They agreed that we needed to take sound readings and develop the acoustical plan to resolve the problem, and that could not be done if we did not have track events to measure. We expect to have the final report in mid September and we plan to build those sound abatement structures.
- We have approved a construction plan for a large berm to be built on property between the Motorsports Park and the Clark Circle neighborhood. We expect to have the building permit on Tuesday (8/25) and have approved an expedited construction plan to get it completed within a few short weeks.
One that final point, the NCM has indeed received the go-ahead for a construction permit to build a noise berm and this letter from the NCM was mailed out today to the residents of Clark Circle:
Clark Circle Residents:
We would like to share an update with you on work at the Motorsports Park.
Most importantly, you should be seeing dirt-moving equipment and construction near the back of the Clark Circle properties that are nearest the Motorsports Park. On Tuesday, August 25th, we received the permit from the County to begin construction on a berm that is 1,630 linear feet long. The average height will be 14 feet high (range is 8 feet to 20 feet in various areas). Construction crews have been asked to expedite the process and get it completed as soon as possible (barring any issues with weather, sinkholes or major solid rock issues). We will not be disturbing any of the tree line behind those properties, but the berm will begin just past those trees.
In just a few weeks, we expect to receive a report from Bowlby & Associates, the acoustical engineering firm, for additional noise abatement structures to be built close to the track. While these additional structures are not required in the Binding Elements, the structures will provide even more sound control. Bowlby & Associates has reviewed the construction plan for the berm, and its noise reduction impact is incorporated into the overall acoustic design plan.
We were also told that the PA system could be heard from Clark Circle. We have redirected the direction of the speakers and that seems to have helped. The National Corvette Museum and the NCM Motorsports Park are committed to being a good neighbor and a facility that everyone is proud of. We believe that we can accomplish more by working together and communicating in a positive manner.
That’s some positive news coming from the National Corvette Museum and as always, it’s our hope that the Museum and its nearby neighbors would be able to solve the track noise issue amicably. Whether or not it’s able to communicate those wishes to county officials remains to be seen.
National Corvette Museum
Corvette Museum’s Motorsports Park Fined $100 for Noise Violation
Corvette Museum’s Attorneys Respond to Motorsports Park Noise Violation
Resident’s Group Calls on Attorney General over Noise Dispute with the Corvette Museum’s Motorsports Park
NCM Director Wendell Strode Reacts to Motorsports Park Noise Violation
Corvette Museum’s Motorsports Park Will Hold Track Events Despite Shut Down Order
Corvette Museum’s Motorsports Park Receives Shut Down Order Over Noise Concerns