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Posted: April 17, 2013 6:17 p.m.

Go kart facility could come to Newton

A $1 million go kart track and rental facility could locate in Newton County if the Board of Commissioners decides to allow such companies.

Monroe resident Dan Moore has been looking for a place to locate a major go kart facility for years and believes he’s found the perfect spot near Interstate 20 in western Newton County.

Moore, who already has a company set up – Atlanta Gran Prix Karting – but no facility, took his plans to the county recently to see if they would allow such a use. The county changed its ordinances in 2011 to disallow all race tracks, because a local man wanted to open a drag strip on his property near Social Circle.

However, the proposed go kart facility will be nothing like that controversial drag strip, Moore said, and commissioners seemed to be in support of the project at Tuesday’s work session. The board must still take an official vote at a later meeting to change the ordinance, and Moore would still need a conditional use permit to be approved for his specific project.

Moore didn’t want to disclose the property he’s looking at because it’s not yet under contract, and the county’s process could still take a few months.

The key to the facility is that it would be located in a commercial area along I-20, where noise from the highway would likely drown out much of the noise from the go karts, Moore said.

However, commissioners need to create an ordinance that would apply to all go kart businesses not just the property Moore is looking at.

Lynn Morgan, deputy director of the developmental services department, said one way to prevent uses other than go karts and similarly small vehicles is to craft an ordinance that only allow single cylinder engines. In addition, tracks for go karts would likely be limited to commercial and industrial zonings and the board may also specify requirements for fencing, vegetation (trees, shrubs) buffers around the property and landscaping.

Commissioner Nancy Schulz said she would like county attorney Jenny Carter to look into emission or pollution controls for an ordinance, while Commissioner Lanier Sims wanted noise restrictions to be explored. Carter said the best process would probably be to have an ordinance to regulate use, but also require businesses to get a conditional use permit which would regulate more specific aspects like noise and traffic.

Commissioner Levie Maddox said he was excited about the project and said he and his family would use the facility. Other commissioners also expressed support.

Moore said he’s been looking for a property for the last five years and is looking at Newton County because of its proximity to Atlanta and the fact there is property available along I-20, where the facility’s noise would be masked by the highway.

His facility would contain a three-quarter mile, 27-foot wide asphalt track with multiple configurations. All told, Moore is looking to invest between $1 million and $1.5 million in a facility that would also sell go karts and allow the public to store go karts in on-site garages. Moore said he needs at least 15 acres for a facility. He is currently looking for investors.

The core customer would be businesses who wanted to rent out the facility for entertainment, team building or other events.

The course would also be available to the public, and Moore would hope to offer league racing and even a driving school for youth. Normally, insurance requirements only allow people with a driver’s license to drive go karts, but if younger children take a training course they can drive a go kart. Moore would hope to attract private birthday parties, family reunions and other events.

Moore said go karts can go 45 m.p.h., which is why it’s important to have a track long and wide enough to allow for more entertaining driving.

Typically, non-go kart enthusiasts can only drive for 10 to 15 minutes at a time before they start to get worn out, Moore said, and the typical customer will purchase three rides an hour with a small break in between. He expected to charge somewhere between $15-$25 for a 10-minute session.

“It sounds like a high price, but it’s not because it will seem like an eternity,” Moore said.

Part of the cost comes from the maintenance of the karts and facilities, but go kart tracks must also have insurance; Moore expected to purchase between $1 million and $5 million in liability insurance. He said go karts are very safe and noted that insurers wouldn’t offer insurance if the karts weren’t safe.

As far as competition, Moore said there wasn’t much in the Atlanta market outside of Andretti Indoor Karting & Games in Roswell and Atlanta Motorsports Park in Dawsonville. He believes his facility would pull from a wide radius, which would benefit the county by pulling in sales and possibly hotel/motel taxes. When he first started pursuing a facility in Banks County, Moore said the state tourism board contacted him and wanted to promote a new facility.

“It’s a popular form of entertainment because its inexpensive, fun and makes everybody equal,” Moore said. “People ask why I’m pursuing this given the economy, but this economy makes this thing even better because people are looking for fun that’s less expensive.”

Moore said he may even have a place where remote-controlled vehicles could race and even a skateboard park.

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