CMI Plan Violates Controversial Sound Ordinance

Tamworth — October 29, 2005 — Club Motorsports Inc., announcing details of how it plans to operate a 3.1-mile amateur racetrack and driving club on 250 acres of Mount Whittier, plans to ask the town to consider easing its restrictions on noise.

A letter from CMI President and CEO Lloyd Dahmen suggests the Derry company will not comply with a controversial sound ordinance passed at town meeting to target “private driving instruction and exhibition facilities.”

CMI earned the “exhibition” designation in a recent legislative battle to loose itself from what it called an overly restrictive Tamworth ordinance regulating “racetracks.” The company successfully lobbied for a law passed separating them from larger, louder spectator tracks like the Loudon speedway.

Dahmen said once his proposed track is up and running, the company will ask the town to reconsider restrictions on noise that he says are unreasonably restrictive and don’t apply to other businesses in Tamworth.

“We are fully aware of the sound ordinance passed at Town Meeting in March 2004 that specified 69 dBA measured instantaneously at the property lot line,” Dahmen wrote.

“We have consistently stated that this extremely low limit is unreasonable and unworkable, as evidenced by the fact that this restriction would prevent us from even mowing our lawn at the lot line, or driving a car onto our property,” he said in the letter, addressed, “Dear Tamworth Resident and Neighbor.”

The letter appeared in conjunction with a news release about CMI’s operation plan on the company’s Web site,

“At the appropriate time and before we operate, we are going to ask the town to re-examine this issue through an open discussion,” Dahmen wrote.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, when granting CMI a federal environmental permit, found the less stringent noise limits cited in the company’s operating plan to be acceptable to both CMI and Tamworth, he said.

The operating plan limits noise to “a maximum of 99 dBA per vehicle, measured instantaneously at 50 feet from the road course; with an average sound level of 92 dBA at 50 feet during driving sessions,” he wrote.

“As a point of comparison, large trucks passing by our facility on Route 25 everyday generate noise levels of up to 100 dBA and beyond,” Dahmen said.

The League for the Hard of Hearing estimates different decibel levels, abbreviated as dBA, vary from 30 dBA for a soft whisper to 60 dBA for a normal conversation and 110 dBA for the equivalent noise level of shouting in somone’s ear.

The league reports that “noise levels above 85 dBA will harm hearing over time. Noise levels above 140dBA can cause damage to hearing after just one exposure.”

CMI also announced proposed hours and dates of operations. Use of the track will be restricted to daylight hours only, from mid-April to the end of October, according to the company’s Web site.

“There will be no night-time road course use and the only lighting will be for safety and insurance reasons,” Dahmen said.

The course will be open from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., except Sunday morning, when vehicles will be kept off until 11 a.m., according to the site.

The track will not be plowed or salted in the winter. It will be open to skiers and snowshoers, but snowmobiles will be restricted to existing trails on the property, and they will not be allowed on the auto track.

Dahmen said CMI expects to become the town’s largest taxpayer after its motorsports park is built, and predicts it will hire 50 new employees.

“Club Motorsports has committed both publicly and privately to give town residents first priority for open positions, if they are qualified, and then look for applicants in the surrounding towns,” he wrote.

CMI also promised to create a Tamworth Development Fund, and contribute 5 percent of its net after-tax income up to a maximum of $100,000 per year.

Dahmen said CMI hopes to reach the $100,000 maximum contribution by its fifth year of operation.

Selectmen would appoint a committee to administer the fund with sole spending discretion. The only restriction is that expenditures benefit the general population of Tamworth, he said.

A local watchdog group says that the track should not be built without more locally imposed regulations.

Before breaking ground on its site off Route 25, the company must defend itself against a lawsuit brought by citizen’s group, Focus: Tamworth. Focus: Tamworth and town conservation officials say the company has sidestepped other local regulations besides the sound ordinance, including a town wetlands ordinance.

Should CMI be allowed to build without a town wetlands permit, they say, the ordinance will be weakened.

CMI argued that it already earned federal and state environmental permits, and that a CMI victory in court would only affect its permitting, and not undermine the ordinance. Focus: Tamworth also says that the sound generated by the track will be a nuisance in rural Tamworth. Motor noise and other pollution, opponents say, could drive out area businesses that thrive in the town’s quiet county setting.

Noise limits as well as operating hours proposed by CMI violate the sound ordinance, according to Focus: Tamworth spokesperson Kate Vachon.

“We think the noise limits are way too high,” she said. “And their hours will also be in violation.”

Vachon said the ordinance imposes “quiet hours” after 6 p.m. most days, and until noon on Sunday.

The CMI plan would open the track during quiet hours for one hour on each day. The full plan is available on the company’s website,

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