Wanship property owner sues Summit County over motocross track violations
Wanship property owner Steve Luczak is suing Summit County over the enforcement actions that were taken against him for zoning ordinance violations he incurred while operating his motocross track.
The 3rd District Court lawsuit filed on Jan. 5 appeals a decision rendered by the county’s administrative law judge that required remediation and restoration of the hillside where the motocross track sits. The motocross track, located near 1800 S. Hoytsville Road, is situated on the hill above the Weber River and can be seen from Interstate 80. The track has been there since 2014.
“We will just have to fight it out,” said Luczak, owner of Kodiak America Homes. “We haven’t paid any fees and aren’t planning to. It’s totally a property rights issue now. I did everything I was supposed to do. I went to the county, applied for the permit and did everything that they required me to do. I bought this property to use it for recreation and agriculture. We are not going to tear it down. It is a private track on private property.”
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. It expired on May 17, 2015. However, as the county alleges the grading work continued around the property in excess of the permit, Community Development Director Pat Putt issued a cease-and-desist order in 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.
However, the Council found in July of 2016 that, since the county’s engineer had issued the grading permit, the county was barred from enforcing the zoning violations. In February, Putt issued a Notice of Violation to Luczak to restore and re-vegetate all motocross track areas.
A 3rd District Court judge in February overturned the Council’s decision barring the county from enforcing the violations against Luczak. A hearing was held before the county’s administrative law judge, who rendered a decision on Dec. 1 requiring Luczak to remediate and restore the property, in addition to posting a $683,046 performance bond on or before Jan. 1, 2018, and paying $140,000 in civil penalties. A performance bond is a form of surety that is held by the county.
If Luczak does not comply with the judge’s ruling, the county can pursue appropriate legal means to recover fees and to enforce the terms and conditions of the order. Failure to comply with the ruling would constitute a class C misdemeanor.
The motocross track has become a major point of contention among neighbors who have called it a nuisance, citing the noise and activity as detrimental to their way of life. Others have supported the activity on Luczak’s property.
Luczak insists he will not pay any of the fees. He said he is not operating a commercial track, adding the county has no rules about riding on private property. He said he can still ride on his property, but not on the track.
“I feel like it is personal or political at this point,” he said. “There are things we could work out, but the track is not coming down. The county recognized the whole time through that I was OK with my permits, but to change their minds and come up with a different definition for the use of the property isn’t right. The next thing they will tell people is they can’t ride on their property.”
Dave Thomas, Summit County’s chief civil deputy attorney, said in an email to The Park Record the prior court’s decision is final. He said the new lawsuit attempts to re-litigate the prior court decision, but added “there is no jurisdiction to do so.
Unless the administrative court, 3rd District Court or county agrees to rescind the enforcement violations, Luczak “must post the bond and begin remediation,” Thomas said.
“The new lawsuit is an appeal of the ALJ’s (administrative law judge) Order on the Notice of Violation. Thus it is limited to the reasonableness of the remedy imposed by the ALJ,” he said.
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