Settlement keeps motocross park open
“The last thing we want to do is to cost the taxpayers money,” Wosick said on Friday, Oct. 19. “We want to bring revenue into the community.”
Wosick said bad decisions by the county on the scope of monitoring caused the dispute. He said the settlement amount is twice as much as it would have cost the park owners to monitor noise themselves.
“If somebody wanted to pay me to go have a track somewhere else, I wouldn’t do it,” Motocross Park Owners Larry and Lise Wosick. “Fortunately, we came to a middle-of-the-road deal.”
The Wosicks signed the settlement agreement on Monday, Oct. 15, and made a $50,000 deposit, according to County Treasurer Richard Egan.
The settlement calls for the Wosicks to pay $105,500 for monitoring resulting a Lassen County Superior Court judge ordered to settle a neighbor’s 2003 lawsuit over noise from weekend motocross races. Egan said the county has paid more than $175,000 for four years of monitoring.
The Wosicks agreed to pay the balance of $55,500 by Dec. 14, Egan said. They also paid a $9,000 deposit for noise monitoring at two upcoming races.
In addition, the park owners agreed to go back to court to find out how much noise monitoring Visiting Superior Court Judge Guy Martin Young wanted and how long it should continue.
Wosick said they should be ready to take the issue back to court within 30-45 days. The couple hired a new attorney, Jan Fleener, of Sacramento, who specialized in noise issues.
If the issue cannot be settled in court, Egan said the agreement gives the county total discretion as to how often to monitor noise and how much noise monitoring to do.
Honey Lake Motocross Park has two events remaining this season. One starts on Saturday, Oct. 20 with a Grand Prix on Sunday, Oct. 21. Then the District 36 European Hare Scramble is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 27 and Sunday, Oct. 28. It includes Round 15 of the 2007 MSRWestern Regional Cross Country Championship Series.
Citizens for a Healthy Rural Environment and Richard and Mary Morgan, who live next door to the motocross park, filed the suit. A March 2003 Lassen County Superior Court order requires the county to ensure that there is noise monitoring at each scheduled racing event. The court ordered the noise monitoring instead of requiring the environmental impact report the Morgans requested.
The court issued the order after experts for the Morgans claimed motocross races consistently exceed the noise limits allowed in the county general plan. Experts for owners Larry and Lise Wosick claimed traffic on Highway 395 and a barking dog made more noise than the motocross races.
To make sure the motocross park operates without constituting a nuisance, Young ordered the Wosicks to monitor decibel levels and stay within the sound guidelines in the Lassen County General Plan.
The county took over the monitoring, according to County Counsel R. Craig Settlemire, because the consultant Wosick hired was not monitoring every event held between April and October since 2001.
Faced with the “dueling experts” at trial, Ketelsen said the county “used methodology the court sanctioned” and hired an independent noise monitor, Wilson, Ihrig and Associates, of Oakland.
The board approved a contract for continued noise monitoring by Wilson, Ihrig at its Tuesday, Oct. 16 meeting.
The issue came up earlier this year at the Tuesday, April 17 board meeting, when the board considered renewing its contract with Wilson and Ihrig. County Administrative Officer John Ketelsen told the board Wosick had not paid the bill.
On April 24, outside the closed chambers where the board was discussing how to handle the dispute, Wosick said he had only paid for monitoring conducted by the consultant he hired. The next day he said he would pay the bill.
According to Settlemire, the 2005-2006 Lassen County Grand Jury report questioned the lack of payment. The grand jury report said the county paid $46,500 to the consultant for noise monitoring fees in 2004 and $54,000 in 2005.
“As of the end of the Grand Jury report deadline and to the best of the knowledge of the grand jury, Lassen County has not yet been reimbursed for any portion of the ($100,500 in) noise monitoring costs by the HLMP owners,” the grand jury report said.
Settlemire said he wrote three letters to the Wosicks’ attorney, enclosing bills and requesting payment. The county counsel sent the letters in July 2004, October 2005 and November 2006.
Wosick said he could not pay invoices made out to Lassen County, and when he approached Wilson and Ihrig, the consultant said county officials told the consultant not to talk to him.
After months of negotiations, during which the main sticking point was how to pay for noise monitoring at future events, Egan finally finalized the settlement last week.
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