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Master plan revision and rezoning approved for motorsports complex and event venue

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Ariel view of property

The Board of County Commissioners voted 5-0 at the November 17, 2020 meeting to approve a Master Plan revision and rezoning petition by AXI VIO Holdings.  Planning and Zoning recommended 5-0 to rezone the current agricultural (AG) property to Planned Development Project – Highway Commercial (PDP – HC ).  The property is located on the north side of Ayers Road, 975 feet east of Highway 41, and parcels also exist north of Old Ayers Road.

The property owner is Achilles Thomas, who, with this family has built the locally owned Monster Transmission into a global business.  Thomas said that the existing commercially zoned parcels in the area have been part of a transformation from a “closed-down chicken farm to a Disneyland for gear-heads.”   Thomas’s vision for the property is to host automotive-themed tourism and public events.  

No citizens present opposed the request.

Automotive enthusiasts will have a dedicated place to gather in safety, rather than along roadsides and parking lots.  He said such a venue would be the first in the state, if not the nation.  The fruition of Thomas’ ideas would mean more jobs available and money returned to the local economy.  According to Thomas, some of the events could draw as many as 5000 people.  

Planning and Zoning recommended the approval of the petition with unmodified performance conditions, however, conditions were added to the request between the Planning and Zoning meeting and the BOCC meeting.

Mike Kelly of Point West Engineering advised the commission of the additional conditions; that development of this type would not trigger an automatic connection to Hernando County Utilities (HCUD).  He also requested that recreational vehicles (RV) would have 40 designated spaces with hookups to water and electric, but not wastewater.  Additionally, the request for a terminal time for sound level restrictions be set at 2 AM, as the property is close to the Brooksville-Tampa Regional Airport (BKV) and also nearby railway tracks.  

Utilities Director Gordon Onderdonk cautioned that if Old Ayers road becomes vacated, those properties become contiguous, and therefore would require a connection to HCUD, per state statute.  County Attorney Garth Coller advised that the results of the statute cannot be avoided by specifying an exception in a contract.  According to Planning Director Ron Pianta, the current master plan does indicate the right-of-way on Old Ayers Road to be vacated in the future.

In order to move forward, the vacation of Old Ayers Road would need to be removed from the Master Plan.  The connection to HCUD will be delayed at this time.

Pianta and his staff found the request for 40 RV spaces to be “excessive.”  He explained that while the desired use of the RV spaces would accommodate the vehicles during the length of the event, any extended stay would be possible and enforcement of any limits “impossible.”  Thomas added that he has no intention of allowing extended stays, but said that the motorsports type events attract many visitors who want to camp in RVs.   

Regarding the noise ordinance standards, roughly six residences are located within 1/4 of a mile (in the Rivard subdivision) from the planned property.  Thomas said the adjacent property east of the planned site has been vacant for “hundreds of years,” and added that the property owner lives in Canada.  “When and if the opportunity arises, we will likely acquire that property.”

Exemptions currently exist in the county noise ordinance for spectator sports, under which the venue’s intended use applies. The BOCC consensus is to end events by 1:00 AM, with those leaving the property having done so by 2:00 AM.