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Posted: January 31, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Drag strip debaters pause to re-group

Both groups involved in the Social Circle drag strip debate are taking some time to prepare their next moves after Monday night’s planning and zoning work session.

For the Supporters of the Motorsports Complex, the next move will be for petitioner Donnie Clack to gather information on noise levels, construct a business model for the site and ensure that the facility would operate in accordance with all county and city ordinances.

The Concerned Citizens of Social Circle, a group composed of citizens who feel that the drag strip will cause too much noise an pollution and drive down their home values, are taking the time to come up with new opposition tactics.

Both groups are still collecting signatures for petitions regarding the motorsports complex, and both have posted yard signs voicing support or opposition for the project. Both groups held their most recent meetings on Thursday.

The Supporters held their meeting in Jersey. Clack stated that he wants to move the meetings to Social Circle, but he has currently been unable to find a place to hold the meetings, as many businesses don’t want to take a side in the conflict. Clack explained that offering the group the building would likely be seen as a sign of siding with the Supporters.

Clack was told at the planning and zoning meeting that the burden of proof now rests on his shoulders. Clack, however, says that it needs to be a joint effort.

"The burden should be on the city of Social Circle," Clack said at the SftMC meeting. "This city has a prime opportunity to step up to the plate and do something good."

Clack and several city officials are expected to visit a similar site in Eatonton sometime in the next month.

Clack has stated the facility would be good for Social Circle, in that it would bring in revenue in taxes and visitors, and it would give the children somewhere to go to help keep them out of trouble.

The primary goal for the Supporters right now, Clack said, was to inform the residents near the site about what exactly the motorsports complex would have. Clack said that most of the opposition to the site comes from the spread of false information. He did not say whether or not the spread of misinformation was intentional.

"We need to educate people so they can make decisions before we dump it in their lap, so they can do the right thing," Clack said.

Their next meeting has not been announced at this time.

The Concerned Citizens also met on Thursday night. Organizer Jenny Cole stated that the next move for the group was to get more data that would oppose the site, and to continue to spread information about the dangers of the drag strip.

"Right now we need to regroup, and focus on what direction we want to go," Cole said.

The Concerned Citizens will hold their next meeting on Feb. 11 at Social Circle First Baptist Church at 7 p.m.

The CCoSC has been raising funds in case a lawyer needs to be hired, and the say they are very close to their monetary goals.

The site of the drag strip has been under heavy fire from citizens inside Social Circle, and in surrounding areas in Newton and Walton counties since its announcement in late 2009. Newton and Jasper counties have sent formal letters stating their oppositions to the project, whereas Walton county has stated they support the project.

The planning and zoning committee has stated they would likely have more work sessions before any final votes were taken on the site. The next scheduled meeting for the planning and zoning commission is Feb. 22.

For more information on the Concerned Citizens group, visit www.ccosc.com. For more information on the Supporters group, visit www.citizensforthemotorsportscomplex.com. For more information on this ongoing story, visit covnews.com/dragstrip.

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