A Post Falls city councilman angered neighbors this weekend by hosting a motorcycle rally that broke several county building laws.
Councilman Joe Doellefeld hosted the Easter Sunday rally on a dirt track beside his State Line Stadium/Speedway. Up to a half-dozen motorcycles and a handful of stock-car-like sprint cars buzzed the circular track all afternoon.
Doellefeld maintained he did nothing wrong and speculated that neighbors complained because of a personal dispute dating back several years.
Neighbors say it’s far from personal.
They fought at county meetings two years ago to make sure the new track did not affect them, said rancher Frank Flanigan. Now they’re angry because on Easter Sunday they had to tolerate plumes of dust and noise levels equivalent to an orchestra at full volume.
“The point is he’s not following the rules,” said rancher Lynn Humphreys, who raises 85 head of Angus cattle on 300 acres next to the track. “I thought the rules were made for everyone.”
Doellefeld’s track was built in 1993 without proper permits. Kootenai County commissioners last year said he could use the track only if he obtained those permits, kept the noise down and met 15 other conditions.
But Doellefeld’s grading permit expired months ago - before he completed work on a noise-reducing berm, according to county records. The berm itself is half-complete.
A building permit for his existing bleachers still sits unfinished on a shelf in the county planning office.
“He applied for the permit, but never followed through on it,” said County Planning Director Cheri Howell.
A handful of other requirements have not been met, according to records.
“We received a few phone calls, but we haven’t received a written complaint,” Howell said. She will investigate any written complaints.
Doellefeld’s neighbors say they have more than that.
They were so angry they bought a $59 noise meter and videotaped themselves testing noise from the track on Easter Sunday.
The tape shows noise topping 80 decibels in Humphreys’ backyard. That’s the equivalent of an orchestra. County regulations prohibit noise at Doellefeld’s track from topping 55 decibels - between normal conversation and background music - at his property line.
“His (Humphreys’) tractor probably puts out more than 55 decibels,” Doellefeld said.
He met Tuesday with commissioners and told them the rally was held to check sound levels at the track. But he checked for noise levels different from those required by the county.
“We didn’t have it open to the public,” he said. “We didn’t have spectators in the stands.”
“It was just a practice for him to run some tests,” said Commissioner Dick Compton. “I know very little about it.”
Doellefeld is required to get county permission for practices on the track until he has met the conditions set forth last year. In fact, he asked for and received permission for special practices in fall 1994.
No permission was sought or granted for Sunday’s rally.
“We’re doing everything we can as best we can as quick as we can,” Doellefeld said.