Disputing the way the county has measured noise around the Gordon Park Speedway, lawyers for the dirt racetracks' owner argued against a court injunction Wednesday.
The county has filed a lawsuit to seek a permanent injunction, barring the Bill "Catfish" Reece, from holding races at the Gordon Highway track. Lawyers from both sides argued their cases to Superior Court Judge William M. Fleming at the Columbia County Justice Center, who has not made a decision in the case.
"The city is in the position where it has to stop this continued nuisance," said Bill Keogh, a lawyer representing Columbia County.
Keogh said that officials found Reece violating a county ordinance that sets noise limits on the track several times during last year's racing season.
The ordinance, adopted in 1999, states that noise created by the racetrack cannot exceed 60 decibels when measured at three established points within half a mile of the track.
Armed with a hand-held noise reader, Ken Toma, a manager in the county's Planning and Development Division, would take measurements during the weekend races and often recorded readings that exceeded 60 decibels. At times, the reader topped 80 decibels, Toma said during his testimony.
But Reece's lawyer, William Trotter, said that county officials are misinterpreting the ordinance's original intent, which he said was supposed to measure noise made only by the racing cars.
Because ambient noise often measures close to the 60-decibel mark, and a gust of wind or barking dog pushes the reading above the allowed limit.
The way the ordinance is now being enforced places a burden on the track's owner to be responsible for naturally occurring noise in the area, Trotter said.
He said the county has not taken steps to record what the noise around the racetrack is without cars running, an amount that should be subtracted from the readings during races.
"It was not until 2003 when this interpretation was changed," he said. "We are not violating the ordinance."
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