Moss presents new drag strip layout – may render easement issue irrelevant – Commission consults attorney
Story and Photos by Carolyn Gerding
There were ten Montgomery County residents in the County Commission chambers this morning when the Commission began its session, including lead developer of the proposed Mid America Raceway Park Ronnie Moss. Some spoke in favor of building the drag strip, some did not speak at all, but no one voiced any opposition.
Julie Nordman, who lives near the proposed site, said, “We are Montgomery County taxpayers who live here full time and support MAR Park and Ronnie Moss 100 percent.”
Ted Daleen told the Commission that he thinks if the drag strip is built it will increase business and commerce, and more people will invest in Montgomery County.
Rhineland Alderman Larry Hagedorn said he represents the southern half of Montgomery County and has gotten multiple calls from people asking him to speak on their behalf in favor of the project as some are not comfortable speaking publicly and some have schedules that do not allow them to attend the meeting.
Hagedorn also said he has not had a single person speak against the drag strip and he will help Moss organize youth activities if it is built. He said there are a lot of young people racing on the street and they need to have somewhere to race safely.
Katie Johnson said of the landowners in opposition who do not live in Montgomery County full time, “They’re holding us back. They go home and enjoy what they don’t want us to have. It just doesn’t seem right,” and added that the drag strip would put Montgomery County on the map, and that if noise is an issue to some people, they can purchase ear plugs.
Johson asked the Commission if there is anything citizens can do to help get the application approved, and First District Commissioner Rich Daniels told her, “You’ve already spoken volumes,” and that he appreciates residents coming in to voice their opinion.
When the issue of the easement for the access road that runs across the current site plan for the drag strip was raised, Second District Commissioner John Noltensmeyer said, “I have over the last 3 or 4 days learned more about easements. The Missouri easement law is very specific. I’m not an attorney but here’s what I understand about the easement at this point. If an easement is on somebody’s deed, an easement is granted, and if it starts at this specific point and it runs this direction, this wide, for so far, the person that received the granting of that easement is pretty much in control.”
“You still own the property but you don’t control that part anymore. Unless everyone who holds that easement agrees to move, you can’t just move it. If you do, at this point in time, I think there is grounds for a lawsuit that I think could drag on for years. We will know more on October sixth when we meet privately with our county attorney. I looked at what Ronnie’s offered to do [move and upgrade the access road] and it’s an improvement, but I don’t know, and until I get a legal opinion, I don’t think it can be moved without their permission.”
Daniels said that the Commission has to look at the county as a whole to try to keep the county out of ligation because the easement itself doesn’t involve the County and is strictly between the parties.
Moss said that the landowners surrounding the property who are in opposition to the drag strip are “just using that roadway just as leverage. We all know that.”
Moss said he could pivot the layout of the track to avoid the land that is affected by the easement and make it work on the property. He did not have it drawn out, but demonstrated to the Commissioners on a map how he could do it. He said he can swing it around and will have to clear out some trees and do some more excavating, but is well within the budget.
Noltensmeyer told Moss, “I strongly suggest that you re-draw it that way and submit it to us with a letter with your intent to construct as per the final drawing. I think that would be in your benefit… then the easement issue would be out of the equation. “
Moss also provided the Commission with an updated business plan and said that he had given it to his bank and the Small Business Administration. He said that that the project is expected to cost around $1 million to complete and that the requirement is to have 15% down, but there is currently 20% available.
Moss returned a little before noon and submitted the new drawing and the Letter of Intent. The Commision took a lunch break shortly thereafter.
At 2:00 pm the Commission placed a call to attorney Ivan Schrader and went into a closed session.