WOOSTER, Ohio – All-terrain vehicles are still buzzing and landowners are fuming while they wait to go back to court March 4 in Wayne County.
In an attempt to create a safe place to ride all-terrain vehicles, Hartville residents Tom and Elizabeth Burick landed themselves in court, faced with a nuisance suit from neighbors of Lo-Conn Motocross. The track, named after the couple’s sons, is located on Route 83 south of Wooster.
Complaints. Residents of the Johnny Apple seed housing development filed suit March 16, 2001, in Wayne County Common Pleas Court, alleging the operation of the facility would create “unreasonable noise, odors, dust, congestion and other offensive behavior, all of which collectively will substantially and unreasonably interfere with residents’ use and enjoyment of their property.”
The development is located across Route 83 from the motocross. Other landowners in the area have also joined in the suit, claiming the track could pose safety hazards and decrease their homes’ values.
“The plaintiffs filed this suit based on a number of issues that are extremely disrupting to residential areas,” said Douglas Drushal, attorney for the more than 100 plaintiffs. “This is an extremely strong case, and the use of the property is inappropriate for its location.”
The plaintiffs are seeking damages and a court order to stop operations at the track.
The case was argued in late December in front of visiting judge Roger Lile from Tuscarawas County and will continue in early March.
The Buricks are represented by John V. Boggins of Canton.
Suitable location? The Buricks purchased the 82-acre site more than a year ago at an auction with plans to develop a portion of it into a riding track for dirt bikes and ATVs, according to Elizabeth Burick. The couple decided on the former farm as the location of their facility because, although in a residential area, the area where the track would be located was buffered by a 100-acre marshland, open pasture land, and a gravel and sand mine, she said.
She said they were also drawn to the large parcel of land because of its size, lack of zoning, and frontage on a state route.
Despite the lawsuit, Lo-Conn opened in June 2001 and had “great attendance,” with riders coming from Medina, Akron and Canton, and as far away as Cleveland and Columbus, Burick said.
“There are more and more bikes and four-wheelers out there today, and these guys have got to have somewhere to ride,” she said, noting her husband and sons are motocross enthusiasts. The facility provides a manicured riding area for riders of all ages less than 20 hours per week during daylight hours only, she said. They facility does not have bleachers or lights.
“The track is safe, with special riding times for kids, and we’ve got flag people out there working too. We’ve got dads and moms and grandmas coming here to watch and participate,” Burick said. “It’s not safe or legal to ride on roads, and this place fills that void.”
The facility is also surrounded by trees that serve as a sound and sight barrier for neighbors.
The big picture. “The nearest house is about 1,500 feet away,” Burick said, “and some homeowners in the suit live six miles from here. You tell me why they’re in the suit.”
“They filed the case before we even opened, which leads me to believe it’s not the actual noise or dust they’ve got a problem with. It’s the whole idea of the track.
“They envisioned more houses, or the land staying how it was. We were never given a chance. This was never look at in any way other than negatively,” she said.
Counter-suit. In December, Lo-Conn Motocross filed a trespass and nuisance complaint in Wayne County Common Pleas Court against neighboring property owners George Topovski and Eloise Bell, plaintiffs in the other lawsuit, and four other unnamed defendants.
(You can contact Andrea Myers at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)