A ruling revs up dispute motocross track
December 14, 2017
A North Summit property owner is still embroiled in a legal battle over the status of a motocross track that covers a significant portion of his property.
A 3rd District Court judge in February overturned the Summit County Council's July 2016 decision barring the county from enforcing a zoning violation against Wanship property owner Steve Luczak for his motocross track after surrounding homeowners sued the county. The district court's decision allowed the county to take enforcement action against Luczak for violating the zoning ordinances.
A hearing was held before the county's administrative law judge, and on Dec. 1 a decision was rendered requiring remediation and restoration of the hillside where the motocross track sits on or before July 1, 2018, according to court documents.
The court ruled Luczak must also post a $683,046 performance bond on or before Jan. 1, 2018, and pay $140,000 in civil penalties. A performance bond is a form of surety that is held by the county, according to Dave Thomas, chief civil deputy attorney.
Thomas said if Luczak does not restore and revegetate the motocross track, the county could make a claim on the performance bond and be paid by the surety to restore and revegetate the motocross track itself. The restoration was to be completed by June 30, 2017.
Documents state if he does not comply with the judge's ruling, the county may pursue "all appropriate legal means to recover and fees and to enforce the terms and conditions of the order as it deems appropriate." Failure to comply with the ruling would constitute a class C misdemeanor.
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Luczak said he plans to appeal the decision in 3rd District Court. He has 30 days.
"This is absolutely ridiculous," he said. "Why would I tear my own property apart when I had a permit to build the track? I thought it was all taken care of and we were going to be OK. I was totally floored that they did this. It's a property issue now."
The motocross track, located near 1800 S. Hoytsville Road, sits on the hill above the Weber River and can be seen from Interstate 80. The property is part of the Sunrise Ridge subdivision, which occupies nearly 150 acres. The track has been there since 2014.
The Summit County Engineering Department issued a grading permit to Luczak on Nov. 18, 2014. The grading permit was limited to 6.2 acres and 4,860 cubic yards of soil, Thomas said. It expired on May 17, 2015. However, as the grading work continued around the property in excess of the permit, Community Development Director Pat Putt issued a cease-and-desist order on March 23, 2016.
Luczak filed an appeal with the Summit County Council to refute Putt's claim that he could not operate the track on his property because it violates the approved uses for that subdivision, and the County Council upheld Putt's determination.
"We applied for the permit in good faith and received a grading permit, which gave us unlimited amount of dirt to move for our track," Luczak said. "We didn't do anything else or outside of the permit that would get a violation. They are saying we change the land use, but it is still 100 percent an agricultural property. We are just riding in a closed-course area instead of on the mountain side."
However, the Council found that since the county's engineer had issued the grading permit, the county was barred from enforcing the zoning violations, Thomas said. The vote was split 3-2, with Roger Armstrong and Kim Carson dissenting. County Council Chair Chris Robinson and former Council members Tal Adair and Claudia McMullin agreed to reverse the order.
In February, Putt issued a Notice of Violation to Luczak to "restore and revegetate motocross track areas along with all other areas modified and disturbed for the purpose of grading motocross track," Thomas said.
The violation required Luczak post a performance bond. Luczak requested a hearing before the county's administrative law judge and sought to have the 3rd District Court reconsider its decision. The 3rd District Court denied Luczak's request, Thomas said.
Joe Wrona, an attorney representing the surrounding homeowners, said the three Council members who voted to reverse the order were "duped by Luczak's attorney."
"I feel bad for them," he said. "But, my clients are thrilled and are very vindicated by this most recent decision. They have had to continue to put up with this unsightly motocross track and the commercial use of that track. They are thrilled to finally see justice fulfilled."
Luczak maintains that his track is for personal and private use, although he admitted he has received commercial offers.
However, Wrona continues to counter the properties in that area are subject to zoning restrictions and a motocross track violates the current zoning. "If you own a property in a neighborhood of homes, you ought to be limited to developing that property," he said. "Luczak purchased the property subject to those zoning restrictions and he knew that and violated it."
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