Motorsports Park developer withdraws noise variance before Osceola board vote

The developer of the proposed Orlando Motorsports Park withdrew his noise variance application late Tuesday night when it became clear Osceola County's Board of Adjustment was about to vote against it.

Before the five-hour meeting, Developer Andy Bardar said Tuesday's vote could be the beginning of a lengthy legal battle. He told GrowthSpotter he has financial backers who are digging in for a potential appeal to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.

"I'm in it for the long haul," he said. "I'm not spending my money. I'm spending other people's money."

But after hours of testimony, Bardar said he needed time to regroup and decide whether to refile the application.

The racing enthusiast has a purchase contract on the 217-acre parcel at the southwest corner of W192 and the S.R. 429 beltway interchange. He has proposed building a motorsports complex with a 1.5-mile “fun track” and go-kart track -- both aimed at tourists -- and a longer, private track for club members and corporate events.

"We're going to make noise, folks. We know it. Cars make noise," he admitted.  

Bardar had revised his application by shifting the club track another 200 feet to the east and extended the sound barrier wall from 10 feet to 16.5 feet. He also agreed to shut down the club track at 6 p.m., and pledged to turn away any customers whose vehicles are too loud.

Board Chairman Ken Komara said Bardar and his team failed to make a convincing legal case for the variance because they couldn't identify a special circumstance or hardship tied to the property. 

"Tell me what's unique about this land that would justify us granting the variance," he said. "Based on the fact that you want to do it -- that's not reason to grant it. Tell me how I'm missing something."

Bardar's attorney asked for a continuance so they could make more revisions to the application. The board refused, saying there was no reason after conducting a four-hour public hearing.

Senior Zoning Specialist Amy Templeton had recommended denying the noise variance, largely due to the vocal opposition from surrounding property owners. The county received more than 240 letters against the project, and a noise consultant brought in to study the issue also advised against approving the variance.

Templeton said the county hired California-based consultant Christopher Jean, specifically because of his expertise in the field. Jean raised several concerns with the revised application, specifically with the types of vehicles that would be used on the track. He also accused Bardar of downplaying the potential noise impact on the residential and resort properties. 

"The potential for noise and noise complaints is far greater than the applicant wants to admit," he wrote.

Attorneys for CLC Encantada Resort and Orange Lake Resort both testified that the motorsports park would create a constant annoyance for their residents, thus limiting their ability to attract visitors and sell timeshares.

In the staff report, Templeton wrote that Bardar “has not demonstrated that there is an unreasonable hardship on the applicant, on the community or on other persons” because the site could be developed for other types of commercial development, including recreation facilities that don’t exceed the limits of the noise ordinance.

Bardar said he chose the W192 site after ruling out seven other locations. And his deposit on the purchase contract has gone hard.

He told the board he plans to buy the property and build an automotive attraction there even without a noise variance. To accomplish that, he would have to eliminate the club course.

"We feel very confident we could scale our project down by two-thirds and build a fun course down the middle of the site," he said. "That would comply with ordinance. That's not my vision. What I want is to build a world-class facility. But if that’s what I have to resort to, unfortunately, that’s what I have to resort to."

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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