Farm Owners Want Motocross Race; Neighbors Don’t Want Noise, Traffic
By Mike Perleberg
(Ohio County, Ind.) – A battle among a handful of Ohio County neighbors concerning a proposed motocross event has local officials divided on whether to allow the competition to take place.
Rod and Kay Ballart own and live on more than 300 acres situated on South Fork Road in the quiet, rural hills of western Ohio County. Last September, the couple and their son, Rand Ballart, attempted to host the Indiana Cross Country Racing series on their farm for a weekend event.
However, neighboring property owners caught word of the planned event, which would have brought hundreds of people, dozens of vehicles, and the noise of dirt bikes and four-wheelers to their country setting.
Two days before the Ballarts were to host the event, neighbors were able to obtain an emergency injunction from Ohio County Circuit Court Magistrate Kim Schmaltz prohibiting it. Schmaltz ruled that the Ballarts had not obtained the proper permit to host such a large event.
“We had people coming from Oklahoma, Virginia, Michigan and at the last minute we had to tell them it wasn’t going to happen,” says Rand Ballart, a South Dearborn Middle School science teacher.
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Rand and his mother both concede that they should have had the permit. So, in January they applied for a special exception through the Ohio County Board of Zoning Appeals in hopes of being allowed to host the IXCR this year on October 11 and 12.
A hearing about the permit brought a large crowd to the BZA hearing on the permit application. The five-member BZA voted 2-1 to allow the permit, however, the vote was not the necessary quorum needed to grant the permit. One BZA member abstained, another was not present, and BZA President Irvin McKinley only votes in the event of tiebreakers.
Soon afterwards, the Ballarts again applied to the BZA for the permit. On March 27, a hearing with an even larger, standing room-only crowd of citizens both for and against the IXCR event in Ohio County appeared. After hearing concerns from the audience, the members again voted 2-1 with one member absent and McKinley against remaining in his tiebreaker role.
The following day, the Ballarts applied for the special exception for a third time based on an appeal of its legality, says Kay Ballart. A hearing on that application is currently scheduled before the BZA on April 24.
Billy Kinnett has been among those leading the charge against the motocross event. He doesn’t live on South Fork Road, but is a resident of Ohio County. His parents, however, do live on that road and have property adjacent to the Ballarts.
“I’m afraid they may break down the system and eventually get it approved,” Kinnett says of the Ballarts’ repeated applications.
Kinnett worries about the affect such a large event with its noise, sanitation concerns, and high traffic volume may have on his elderly parents.
McKinley, the BZA president who says he would vote against the permit in the event of a tiebreaker, agrees citing concerns about the traffic on the narrow county roads. He says the Ohio County has never had a situation like this come up before.
“All the neighbors are against it. I don’t know how we could allow it with that being the case,” he says.
McKinley says that the BZA may consider putting a limit on how many times a person can request the same permit in a span of time.
But Rand Ballart says he and his parents have addressed the BZA’s questions about hosting the IXCR, calling the event a great opportunity for visitors to come see Ohio County. He said the two-days of racing are a family-friendly event with racing by children as young as four-years-old. The IXCR would provide its own basic EMTs.
Kay Ballart said racing will end at 6:00 p.m. each night and will be away from neighboring property. Parking will be on the Ballarts property, not the road, she said.
“At least let us try this for those who enjoy doing it,” Kay asks.
The debate appears to be boiling down to the rights of property owners versus the rights of their neighbors.
“Why can’t I use my land the way I want to when you use yours the way you like?” Rand Ballart asked. “It’s frustrating. We’re not being injurious or hurting anybody.”