The Phat Bottom Motor Speedway will live to fight — and race — another day.
York County Council Monday approved the first of three public readings to rezone 15 acres of rural property east of U.S. 321 allowing for lawnmower races.
The site first opened in 2009, but it wasn’t until after Brian Saunders bought the property off John McCarter Road in August 2013 did he learn county-wide zoning rules did not permit lawnmower racing under RUD or Residential Urban District classification.
“I was sold the property that it was all completely legal,” Saunders said. “It was the same mowers then that it is now.”
Saunders says he holds about 20 lawnmower races per year on the one-tenth mile dirt track where fans back their trucks up to the edge of the track. He is also planning a series of improvements allowing for additional seating. The track’s schedule mirrors that of NASCAR Racing: February to November.
Those plans, Saunders said, do not include adding larger trucks to the bi-weekly track events.
But neighbors of the property — more than a half-dozen of them — voiced concerns over Saunders’ operation and its effect on their quality of life.
“The paintings on my wall were shaking because of this noise [from the track],” Bryan Herring said before council last night. Herring lives a half-mile from the track. “This noise… went all day long. The idea that this is some small family event: No.”
Steve Witt’s property backs up to the speedway and he told council Monday he is “bombarded” with noise from the track to the point where his family has to “go somewhere else” while races are underway.
Despite objections from neighbors, Saunders remains optimistic about the future of his track. He submitted 1,500 signatures in support of the Phat Bottom Speedway to council Monday night.
The zoning measure will come before council again August 18 at 6 p.m.