PELETIER — After months of delay, Peletier commissioners are finally set to discuss an ordinance to regulate racetracks Monday night.
The monthly session of the board will begin at 6:30 p.m. in town hall off Highway 58. It will be preceded by the monthly meeting of the planning board at 6 p.m.
Mayor Dale Sowers said Friday the vote, if one occurs, will to be to schedule a public hearing to get input on a proposed ordinance amendment to shut down races at any track at 11 p.m. As written, it would also require all lights be turned off by midnight and limit practice sessions to between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays and not before 1 p.m. Sundays. The proposal includes a fine of $500 for each minute a race lasts past 11 p.m.
The board has had the issue before it for months, but the novel coronavirus pandemic has played havoc with scheduling a public hearing, since a crowd is expected to attend in the small town hall. Peletier has not offered its meetings online.
Currently, there’s only one racetrack in town, Bobby Watson’s Carteret County Speedway.
Mayor Sowers said earlier this month he has suggested one change to the proposed amendment, based on comments by a regular driver at the track, allowing practice until 9:30 or 10 p.m. on Friday nights before Saturday races.
The need for the rules, according to the mayor, arose after a couple of races last year ran late and nearby residents complained about noise and lights.
So far this summer, the track has had only a few races because of the pandemic and bad weather on race days. However, additional races are scheduled, according to the track’s website, for Oct. 3, Oct. 17, Oct. 31, and Nov. 14. In addition, a “Christmas Clash” is scheduled for December, at a date to be determined.
If the board sets a public hearing for its Monday, Oct. 5 meeting, the board could vote then and the new rules would go into effect immediately, potentially affecting the races in the remainder of October, November and December.
So far this year, Mayor Sowers said Friday, there have been no complaints about races as far as he knows.
“I have people who report to me,” he said, and they haven’t reported any problems. In fact, he said he was told one race in the last session, Sept. 6, was cut slightly short so it wouldn’t run past 11 p.m.
“I think they’ve done a very good job this year,” he said.
The proposal is an amendment to the town’s outdoor entertainment ordinance, which was adopted before the Watson track was built. In addition to restrictions on operations, it would limit the days and places signs for to advertise for races.
The current outdoor entertainment ordinance regulates hours and other aspects of the operation of things like fairs, festivals, music concerts, contests and “similar types of performances or events.” Generally, it establishes a 1 a.m. cutoff time for such events, but prohibits amplified music after 10 p.m.
Bob Lowery, who runs the track, has said he doesn’t object to the 11 p.m. cutoff time.
Mayor Sowers said he hopes the town can soon put the rules to rest.
“I’ll be glad to see it over with,” he said.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.