History of Racetrack Ordinance (2006):
“Northstar Speedway to co-locate with Alaska Raceway Park”, by Ron Wilmot
in Anchorage Daily News Article of August 20, 2006 See the location map in relationship
to your home, their plan and our flier.
October 25, 2006:
Several residents asked the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly on October 17, 2006, ”to do something” to prevent a NASCAR style 1/3 mile round track from being added to the existing drag strip. They presented over 250 petition signatures from local residents, asking the Borough to find a way to protect their quality of life, their investments and their property rights.
21 of the petitioners had lived in Butte from 40 to 76 years;
34 = 30 plus years;
43 = 20 plus years;
with the remainder having lived here from 1 to 19 years. Several Palmer residents also signed after having had to listen to road race noise at the Alaska State Fair. A few occasional visitors to Butte signed to show how their hikes and climbs of Bodenburg Butte and the surrounding mountains were spoiled by accompanying noise from the racetrack and gunfire. For a perspective of what it’s like to live near the existing drag strip, read resident’s description.
When Northstar Speedway announced its intended move to co-locate with Alaska Raceway Park drag strip in Butte, many Butte residents were disapppointed that motor racing enthusiastswould want to impose one more major source of nuisance noise on their community. Racing enthusiasts and race track owners said that, “Traffic to the track will not significantly increase over current amounts.” - “since Butte is already overrun with motor noise, a “little” more of the same shouldn’t matter - “we should be glad to get a circle track since the cars are quieter than the drags and that some of the drag races would be substituted with “muffled car” races.” This was difficult to believe in light of Northstar Speedway advertising “Saturday Night Thunder in the Valley” during their 2006 season.
No community should have to suffer such a variety of nuisance noise. Butte residents have, out of courtesy, tolerated the existing drag strip long enough. They should not be expected to tolerate more than the 23 days of racing we were assured of on March 8, 2000. During the 2007 racing reason, Butte residents had to endure 47 days of racing on weekends and mid-week (see 2007 schedule) from late April to September, including nitro and jet cars on weekends, and street performance series midweek.
Noisy gravel trucks are flying by our residences during construction season by the hundreds just minutes apart,
Weekend traffic from speeding fun seekers out of Anchorage adds noise, accidents and unsafe driving conditions for everyone,
Noise from powerboats, personal watercraft, snowmachines, ATVs and dirtbikes screams and whines through our neighborhoods. Their noise reverberates off the mountains and disturbs our peace and keeps away those who would otherwise come to enjoy the spectacular scenery in a quiet manner.
Noise from above from lots of small aircraft and flightseeing helicopters flying low over our homes to get to Knik River and beyond.
Noise from gun fire and explosions from propane bombs, (even though prohibited but hardly ever enforced since November, 2008) illegally exploded military ordnance and burning cars that originate from “displaced” race track fans who are denied partying at the racetrack after 12:00 pm and told to “take it to Jim’s Creek Parking area.” (From Steve’s Notes: ARP website)
The current racetrack owner said recently that he needs “1000s of fans to drive to the track every weekend” to make this project feasible. These 1000s of fans have to drive past our homes and yards on a narrow highway and residential streets which are not designed for such heavy use. We understand that the bar at the track closes one hour before the races end for the day.
Most of the land near the racetrack to the north and west was settled and in private ownership since the 1940s. Borough lands, known as the “Jim Creek Parcel,” adjoin the race track to the east. Butte Area Residents Civic Organization asked that the Mat-Su Borough Planning Commission and Mat-Su Borough Assembly designate this parcel as a community park to include playgrounds for all ages, sports fields, a walking/cross-country ski loop, BMX and skate board venues, and a family picnic and camping area.
The current Alaska Raceway Park owners were able purchase the original 150-acre racetrack lease from the State of Alaska, but they had to agree to several conditions which were expected to mitigate noise and constrain racetrack expansion. “Final Decision” These conditions include a 200 foot buffer on the east side of the track, a buffer strip along the section line on the west side and the purchase of 27 acres from the Mat-Su Borough for parking and buffer also on the west side of the track as shown on the plan.
Residents received clarification to their concerns about added noise and expansion of the racetrack from former Commissioner of Natural Resources, Pat Pourchot in his letter of February 1, 2001, Issue #16, page 8, that the mandatory buffer conditions addressed concerns of expansion and added noise. He states that:
"DNR agrees that the buffers will not change the existing situation (because the vegetative buffers currently exist). However, because the buffers will remain undeveloped, they will ensure that the situation is not made worse in the future by allowing either residential development or expansion of the racetrack within the buffers."
"Because of the buffer proposed to be retained on the east side of the parcel, a paved, oval track suitable for road racing would be difficult to construct. The applicant has indicated that road racing is not being considered, and the area is generally not suited for snow machine races because of excessive winter winds that result in an unreliable snow cover."
Both racetrack parcels are in a federal flood hazard zone “A” and within a coastal management district. The 27-acre buffer and parking parcel, prior to purchase from the borough as one of the “conditions” was used and abused without payment by current and previous racetrack owners for over 30 years and may be contaminated. According to Mat-Su Planning Commission audio records of September 17, 2001, “a lot of unknown materials have been buried in the site we intend to sell;” “Some of these old dump sites have trees growing up around them.....We don’t know what is there; we have not excavated at all.” Residents expect that the Mat-Su Borough, DEC and the Army Corps of Engineers require an extensive environmental assessment from the owners prior to allowing any construction in order to protect neighboring residents from potential hazardous substances and contamination of their wells.
Assembly person, Ms. Lynne Woodsaklynne@mtaonline.net. 745-4527
Other Assembly members: http://www.matsugov.us/Assembly/members.cfm
Matanuska-Susitna Borough Manager, John Duffy (745-9689) firstname.lastname@example.org
State of Alaska, Commissioner of Department of Natural Resources, Mr. Tom Irwin, (907-269-8431) Tom_Irwin@dnr.state.ak.us
Sen. Lyda Green, 907-376-3370 Senator_Lyda_Green@legis.state.ak.us
Rep. Bill Stoltze, 907-376-4958 Rep_Bill_Stoltze@legis.state.ak.us
“The Racetrack runs only 23 days a year - No More Nitro Cars” Butte Community Council Minutes and Correspondence reflect the concerns of residents and show some of the promises - real and implied - the owners made to the community when they solicited their support for acquiring lands from the State of Alaska and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. .
Alaska Raceway Park: www.akracewaypark.com
Motor sports are fun, but can you imagine what it’s like to have a racetrack in your neighborhood?
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly took our concernto heart when Alaska Raceway Park proposed to add an oval track to their existing dragstrip venue in Butte. They expanded the Racetrack Ordinance to the entire borough on November 21, 2006 and clarified language in the Amendments and Supplemental Amendment. Now, new racetracks have to apply for a conditional use permit if they want to locate or expand in the Borough and conform to certain rules regarding noise and impacts to residents. Existing tracks can apply for grandfather rights.
The issue was not about “An Attack on Motor Sports In the Valley,” but about respect for residents and consideration for their quality of life and their property rights.
Thank you, members of the Assembly!
(Allen, Bettine, Church, Kluberton, Kvalheim, Wells, Woods)
If residents observe that operations at Alaska Raceway Park do not conform to the ordinance and its amendments, or deviate from Grandfather Status, they may file a general complaint or a noise and vibration complaint with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Code Compliance Department. (907)745-9853