ATV track permit appeal planned

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LIVERMORE – Resident Rob Boothby plans to appeal the Planning Board’s December approval of a year-round all-terrain park on 55 acres of farmland off Route 108.

Park owner David Lovewell said the mud run events encourage family fun and help pay the taxes on the nearly 200-year-old family farm.

Boothby said he lives within hearing range of the mud run and the noise has affected the quality of life and disrupted the peace and quiet in the area. It impacts housing and farmland values and potential housing development, Boothby said.

Some residents agree with him, others don’t.

“There was one time it was very loud. I don’t know if it was one specific vehicle that was souped-up or not. Other than that, it is orderly. I don’t hear the people or anything,” said Carolyn Maxwell, who lives across the street from Lovewell’s Barnyard All-Terrain Park.

Planning Board members sought legal advice prior to approving the mud run Dec. 19 after neighbors complained about noise from the events this summer. The board was advised that the town’s site plan ordinance does not address noise, so there is no legal basis to reject the application on noise considerations.

“None of the performance standards either infers or specifically places a prohibition on noise,” said Kristin M. Collins, a staff attorney with the Maine Municipal Association in a Nov. 17 e-mail to Kurt Schaub, Planning Board member and administrative assistant to town officials.

“Noise does not fall within the category of environmental considerations, as it is clear environment is intended in the ordinance to refer to physical land- and building-related concerns. Because land-use ordinances are construed in favor of the applicant whenever possible, I don’t think a court would support application of a noise standard where none is specifically provided. Courts have also held that the general purpose statements of an ordinance cannot be applied as standards. There would be no legal basis to interpret the intent to ‘promote of general welfare’ as allowing the inclusion of a noise standard,” Collins said.

The town’s site plan review ordinance guides commercial development in town. Board members gave final approval to the year-round operation during daylight hours last month.

Lovewell, a Planning Board member, recused himself prior to discussion on the application in December and answered questions from the audience, Schaub said.

The board plans to review different noise ordinances and possibly prepare an ordinance addressing noise or propose an amendment to the existing ordinance for voters to consider in the future, Schaub said. But it would not impact an application that has already been approved.

Lovewell said the five events held at the track last year went well with side-by-side mud runs for trucks and ATV use.

Each event had an average of 40 to 50 vehicles participate and 250 spectators.

With it becoming more difficult for ATVs to gain access to ride over people’s property, “We created a spot so people still have a place to go,” Lovewell said.

“The people against it don’t want it in their backyard. I can understand that,” he said. “What we’ve done to minimize it is to have it on weekends and daylight hours. Some neighbors are concerned and other neighbors have no issues There are others who want housing development … There is no alcohol, no glass allowed. We highly encourage kids to come out. Young kids love it. We keep a clean facility there. A lot of racers and their family’s participate.”

Lovewell plans to hold five or six events next summer, but said he has no plans to hold any this winter. He may look at different types of events, including tractor pulls, he said.

“We’re still an agriculture-based community,” he said.

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