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‘Motor tracks’ rules proposed

Panel looks at zoning for private off-road areas

New restrictions could be coming on the use of motorcycles, ATVs and other off-road vehicles on private property.

The Spokane County Planning Commission will take testimony next Thursday, May 26, on a proposal to regulate private “motor tracks” in unincorporated areas.

County officials are responding to complaints about several personal dirt tracks, some of which reportedly include elaborate off-road designs.

The proposed zoning code amendment would confine noncommercial tracks for motorcycles and off-road vehicles to rural and “rural resource” zoning categories, excluding the “rural activity center” zone.

While a commercial track requires a conditional use permit, private tracks are largely unregulated. Neighbors have complained the county noise ordinance is ineffective.

“Typically, by the time the sheriff gets there, the noise either isn’t happening or the people who are making it promise to stop,” said planner Bob Brock.

Also, he said the sheriff’s office must set priorities, and noise control is not at the top of the list.

Brock said complaints often focus on the intensity and duration of motor track use. They object to noise that is nearly constant for extended periods even if it doesn’t exceed the county noise standard.

Despite their limited authority, county code enforcement officers have responded to complaints about at least eight private tracks since 2004.

Brock said most of the complaints involve tracks that have been “machine-sculpted” to have “jumps, berms and whoop-de-do’s” – not simple dirt paths.

The proposed code change defines motor tracks as “any part of a parcel” that is used as a course for motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles or other off-road vehicles. It also specifies that a motor track doesn’t qualify as “community recreational facility.”

Where allowed, motor tracks must be no larger than two acres and they must be within parcels 10 acres or larger. Tracks would have to be at least 100 feet away from property lines and at least 250 feet from any neighbor’s house.

Tracks could operate only during daylight hours, no earlier than 8 a.m. and no later than 6 p.m. Use would be limited to people who live on the property.



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