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County steers toward go-kart tracks
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Go-kart tracks will now be allowed in Newton County, and an interested businessman continues to explore purchasing land to open a local facility.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted last week to allow go-kart tracks in the county with a conditional use permit, a move that opens the door for Monroe resident Dan Moore to build a facility.

Moore came to the board in April because, he said, he had found an ideal spot near Interstate 20 in western Newton County, but the county had outlawed all race tracks in 2011 to stop a proposed drag strip near Social Circle that faced significant opposition from surrounding residents.

The zoning ordinance change allows go-kart facilities in general commercial, highway commercial and industrial zonings with a conditional use permit, which must be issued by the board before an owner is allowed to build a go-kart facility.

Any outdoor facility must:

•Be on a lot at least 5 acres in size

•Have a smooth track, such as asphalt or concrete (gravel is not allowed)

•Have its track at least 75 feet from any residentially-zoned property line

•Have minimum buffers

•Allow only one-cylinder engines

•Measure sound at all times and not allow karts exceeding 95 decibels

The board could also require a facility to have fencing for noise and aesthetic concerns.

Indoor facilities will have similar requirements, though without restrictions for noise or the size of engines.

Alcohol sales won’t be allowed, but food and drink sales will be allowed.

At the public hearing last week, resident Dennis Taylor said he supported the zoning ordinance change because the county needs more jobs and recreational opportunities. He said he hoped the county would do everything it could to acquire more businesses.

Moore said Tuesday he has been impressed with the county’s work to create an ordinance to allow go-kart tracks.

"Now it’s up to me to apply for a conditional use permit," Moore said Tuesday, noting he hopes to be in a position to ask the county Planning Commission for a permit in September or October.

He continues to look at locating the facility in Newton and is considering three different spots.

Moore previously said he wants to build a 3/4-mile, 27-foot-wide asphalt track with multiple configurations, and invest between $1 million and $1.5 million total in a facility that would also sell go-karts and allow the public to store go-karts in on-site garages. He previously said he was looking for investors. The core customer would be businesses that could rent out the facility for entertainment, team-building or other events, but the course would also be open to the public. He said Tuesday he’s also hoping to have an off-road track for radio-controlled cars, which is a growing form of entertainment around the country.