Rep. Doug Holt (R-Social Circle) has stated that he is planning on introducing legislation to the state house that would de-annex one or several pieces of property from the city of Social Circle.
The targeted piece of land is the property owned by Donnie Clack, the petitioner who wants the land re-zoned to commercial use so that a motorsports complex could be built on the site.
"It’s another option to put on the table to resolve this drag strip issue," Holt said. "I’ve received a lot of calls from people living in that end of the county who do not want this."
The land, if de-annexed from the city of Social Circle would fall back into the jurisdiction of Newton County — whose commissioners have stated in a public letter that they would not endorse such a project — and effectively leave the project dead in the water.
Holt stated that he believed the city would have no choice but to approve Clack’s petition, and that the state legislation would act as a backup. "People with legal backgrounds say the city would be hard pressed to stay no," Holt said.
Holt said no official polls had been conducted, but the constituents who had contacted him had all been opposed to the project.
"For a long time I heard nothing but opposition," Holt said. "I don’t believe any (who called) in support of it are Newton residents. I’m trying to do what I can possibly do from my position."
At this time it is unclear if Holt’s proposition would target only Clack’s property or all Social Circle land in Newton County. Clack’s property was one of several plots annexed into Social Circle in 2008.
The proposed legislation would also need to be backed by local delegation members Sen. John Douglas (R-Social Circle) and Rep. Jeff May (R-Monroe) before it could be voted on.
"It’s dirty politics," Clack said in a meeting held by supporters of the drag strip on Wednesday night. "(Newton County) is never going to give any kind of zoning. I’ve spoken to them before about this type of project, and their answer was a very adamant no."
Clack stated at the meeting that he would be withdrawing the current application without prejudice, as their 45-day time window for supplying necessary studies and information had run out. He stated that the project was not gone, and that once more sound studies and other research had been done, they would reintroduce the petition. He stated that it should be reintroduced in 30 to 45 days.
Clack and his attorney, Michèle Battle, also presented a new design for the proposed site that they stated would address many of the primary concerns that had been raised by concerned Social Circle residents.
The drag strip itself has been moved to the far back of the lot. The end of the track is now more than 1,200 feet from the nearest property line, and the finish line where the engines will cut off is 2,352 feet from the property line. The start line is more than 3,000 feet away.
The track is also located on a recess in the hills of the area and is now 120 feet lower in elevation than the original was projected to be. Clack stated also that a very thick treeline would be kept and combined with the lower elevation would help contain the noise.
"You don’t even see it anymore," Battle said. "We also said, ‘let’s take it as far away as we can from these residential units that are along the northern side.’ Anybody who was complaining about noise on that side, anyone who was complaining about fumes on that side, their concerns have been addressed."
The entrance to the site has been moved directly onto Ga. Highway 278, whereas the previous entrance would have been based on Willow Springs Church Road. The campsite that had been proposed for the site has been removed from the plan. The current plan also does not show several of the other proposed features, such as the mud-bogging course or truck stop, though these sites may be added later.
Clack stated that he would still petition for the project regardless of the outcome of Holt’s proposed legislation, whether it was in Social Circle or Walton County.
"From our perspective, we’re moving forward whether it’s in Newton County or Social Circle. That’s the bottom line," Battle said.