Hearing on Osceola motorsports park noise variance slated for September

The noise variance being sought by the developer of Orlando Motorsports Park (OMP) would allow for noises from the auto-racing attraction to reach as high as 90 decibels.

That's comparable to the sound of a pneumatic drill from 50 feet away or a commercial grain dryer, according to sound specialists hired by the developer.

Andy Bardar, who wants to build the $100 million racing attraction on Kissimmee's W192 tourism corridor, filed an amended noise study with Osceola County this week after zoning officials said the initial application lacked details needed to evaluate it.

Bardar is working with a public relations firm, and he's hired Broad & Cassel's Wayne Rich to represent him at the county's Development Review Committee and Board of Adjustment hearings in September. 

Bardar has a contract on the 217-acre parcel at the southwest corner of W192 and the S.R. 429 beltway. The land was on the market for $13.75 million, with entitlements for retail development along W192.

First reported by GrowthSpotter in September 2016, the OMP conceptual plan calls for 95,000 square feet of automotive-themed retail and dining in the first phase, along with a go-kart track and two auto racing tracks (one for tourists and a second, larger track for private club members). 

Bardar said the motorsports park will play a key role in revitalizing the W192 corridor, and he's looking forward to presenting it to Osceola County.

"Careful consideration has been given to the project plan, including minimizing the potential for noise impact in surrounding areas and properties," he told GrowthSpotter on Thursday. "We’ve received interest and support from several of our neighboring property owners who view this project as a major asset and economic development opportunity for the area."

The facility would operate from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. A typical event would involve 20 go-karts and 10 cars, but it could accommodate 20 cars on the two tracks. 

The kart track in the northeast corner of the property would utilize "attraction go-karts" about 90 percent of the time. Those vehicles, which are typical at tourist attractions, sound similar to a lawn mower engine. 

Occasional weekend events will feature high-horsepower racing karts, which are potentially the loudest vehicles (75 decibels from 80 meters) to be used on site. The general sound characteristics of a racing kart is similar to sounds heard from a high-revving motorcycle engine, according to the noise study.

"These type vehicles are not for public use and will only be operated by Club Members with their own vehicles," consultant Jim Hall wrote in the variance application.

He said the kart track was placed closest to the SR 429 interchange to limit impact to residents and tourists.

"Even with these karts in operation, the 75 dBA contours only leave the site at relatively inoculous locations; SR 429, US 192 and vacant land behind a pharmacy on US 192," he wrote. 

Owners of high-performance cars would have the opportunity to race or train with their own vehicles, but OMP also plans to provide a fleet of luxury racing cars, include four different models of Ferrari and Porsche. The fleet would also include a selection of Lamborghinis, McLaren, Corvette, Aston Martin, BMW, Audi, Maserati, Fords, Dodge Hellcat, Nissan and Jaguar.

OMP is proposing to encircle the tracks with a solid concrete 1-meter wall and build a 3-meter wall along the western boundary of the club course. Acoustic engineer Dave Parzych, with Power Aucoustics Inc., explained why the wall is shorter than a typical highway sound barrier.

"While noise walls located along highways are typically much taller than 10 feet, they are designed to block noise from truck exhaust pipes located as much as 14 feet above the road surface," he wrote in the noise study. "The highway walls are typically located 50 feet or more from the travel lanes. Therefore, in order to block the line of sight to truck noise sources and provide ample noise reduction, highway noise walls need to be much taller to attenuate sound from the types of vehicles that travel on them." 

Even with the noise walls, some neighboring properties will be impacted by the sound. According to the noise study, those sites already experience traffic noise and other ambient noise that exceeds the 55 decibel level limit established by the county's noise ordinance. 

The county has not received any letters of opposition so far to the variance request. Brian Martin, spokesman for Orange Lakes Resort, said the company has not staked out a position.

Jim Bagley, development director for Margaritaville Resort, said his company wants to support new development that generates additional tourism to the area. 

"We welcome all responsible partners," he told GrowthSpotter recently. "Obviously there’s concerns we have about traffic and noise, but I’m sure they’ll act responsibly. The county staff is tremendous in protecting their constituents, and they’ll be smart with us and adjacent developments."

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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