MotokazieLand Recreation Park: sounds like a good development

 Forsest Township Hall Lee Theis, president and owner of Motokazie, at Forsest Township Hall

MotokazieLand presentation at  Forsest Township Hall Lee Theis, president and owner of Motokazie
It was standing-room only at the Forest Township Hall in Millersburg last night. Lee Theis, president and owner of Motokazie, a motorsports race promotion and track-building company, made a presentation to area residents on the development of the MotokazieLand Recreation Park (PDF) in the highway commercial zone between I35 and Cty Rd 46 at Cty  Rd 1 in Rice County.

Theis needs approval from the Rice County Board of Commissioners because this kind of organized motor sports is only allowed in agricultural and urban reserve zoning districts.

I stood at the intersection of Cty Rd. 1 and I35 and took this 22-second video to capture the sound of the freeway noise, as noise from the two motocross tracks is the concern raised the most by residents.

Next up: a public hearing on May 6th, 7 pm, at the Rice County Government Services building in Faribault.

See the website, Rice County Residents for Motorized Recreation (RCRMR) for more info on the MotokazieLand proposal. Supporters are asked to sign the petition and join the discussion on the Facebook group.

The Faribault Daily News has a good pro and con discussion page titled: In their own words: The Motokazie debate.

Other media coverage to-date:

Jordan man proposes $2.7 million motor sports park (Faribault Daily News)

Motor sports park seems a good idea (Faribault Daily News)

Motor sports park proposed off interstate and County Road 1 (Northfield News)

Motor sports park could be beneficial (Northfield News)

Motor sports park project set for public hearing on May 6 (Northfield News)

Residents say area may be in jeopardy (Faribault Daily News)

Change is inevitable (Faribault Daily News)

Noise limit in question (Faribault Daily News)

Motokazie Development Supported by the Chamber (Faribault Chamber of Commerce)

Motokazie aims to be respectful (Faribault Daily News)


  1. amy williams said:

    Hey, thanks Griff for the article! Your Salon Synergy girls thank you!

    April 22, 2010
  2. Andy Bear said:

    MotokazieLand Recreation Park

    Karting is a great family sport, This park is a great idea.
    It will be nice not to have to drive 4 hour to Iowa or SD to race.

    April 22, 2010
  3. Jane Moline said:

    Great posting for earth day Griff! A sport that burns fossil fuel and destroys that dirt you ride on. So you can have fun riding your fossil fuel burner in INTERESTING circles going nowhere helping no one. How can anyone object to that?

    April 23, 2010
  4. Bruce Morlan said:

    Noise is well defined and regulated in the county, but light pollution is an underappreciated but measurable problem if you enjoy life in the country in part for its dark skies. One person’s bright spectacle of noise and light is another’s hell on earth. We (no longer) drive cattle through downtown on horseback, why do city folk think it makes sense to bring the city lights and motor noise to the country? We understand motors and lights (ever seen a soybean field at three AM on a dry harvest season night?). But we only do that out of necessity, and do not do so lightly (sorry).

    April 23, 2010
  5. Robert Palmquist said:

    Hmm, lets see:
    (1) The proposed motor park will significantly increase traffic on weekends and race days; wonder if the road construction on Cty Rd. 1 includes widening the overpass from two lanes to four? If not, traffic will be an issue.
    (2) If they build the motor park that’ll be a huge negative for attracting other businesses to that commercially zoned area, plus it’ll impact the planned housing developments around Fox, Circle and Union lakes.
    (3) Okay, I’ll agree with Bruce on light pollution, one of the five proposed tracks includes night lighting.
    (4) Lot’s of water being used to make this happen: camping facilities with showers, motorcycle and ATV washing stations, and especially the continual watering down of the tracks to keep dust somewhat in control. Wonder what the impact will be on the farmers and local residences pulling water from the same aquifer?
    (5) And yes, the noise level is going to keep other businesses and developments from happening in that area. Who wants to move their business next to a motor park? Rice County could use the extra tax base from these developments, this would end up costing the County a lot in the long run.

    Just my random thoughts.

    April 27, 2010
  6. Betty Berends said:

    How can you think that sports are “helping no one”? Just because motocross is a sport that you don’t understand? Getting your kids outside, off the couch and doing something that challenges them is always a good thing in my book.

    April 28, 2010
  7. Jane Moline said:

    Because this expenditure of fossil fuel, air land, light and sound pollution is not done for the good of anyone except the doer–so it is not helping anyone build or clean up or maintain–it is simply so they can go around in circles to nowhere. “Motorsports” are an oxymoron where “sport” is added on to help justify the self-indulgent waste. It causes a huge pollution burden so that a few can “have fun.” Kids can get off the couch and pedal a bike and run and jump without motorized accessories–and without forcing the neighbors to breath their exhaust or watch as they destroy the land.

    April 29, 2010
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    Our radio show/podcast guest today: Lee Theis, president and owner of Motokazie, and developer of the MotokazieLand Recreation Park.

    It should air at 6pm today on KYMN 1080am. I’ll have the podcast episode posted by early Tues morning.

    May 3, 2010
  9. Griff Wigley said:

    Hey, Jane, I don’t presume anyone will convince you to change your mind on the issue, but I did want to challenge you on one of your points.

    Motocross is actually probably the most terrain-friendly of all off-road vehicle activities because it’s contained on a closed, man-made track.

    I’ve applauded the Star Tribune for its coverage of the environmental damage done by some irresponsible ATV riders all over the state. It’s a huge problem, but not with motocross. Saying that motocross “destroys the land” is akin to saying that cars or motorcycles racing around a dirt oval at the county fair grounds destroys the land.

    May 3, 2010
  10. Griff Wigley said:

    Bruce, with dozens of gas stations and restaurants within a few miles of I35 and Hwy 19, is the Big Steer complex likewise really necessary in your mind?

    The impact of its 24×7 light pollution and the roar of semis engine-breaking as they come down the exit ramps and roar back up the on-ramps as they depart surely is many times over what this motorsports park would create.

    If the Big Steer complex is legit for its location, why not MotokazieLand for its proposed location, other than “it’s new”?

    May 3, 2010
  11. Griff Wigley said:

    Robert, I’ve got some responses to your points but I’ll try to make a point of asking Lee Theis about them today on our show.

    May 3, 2010
  12. Tom Zensen said:

    You are missing a couple of points. Motocross bikes are indeed ATVs. They are allowed on ATV trails during there designated time periods. In the state forest lands they have literally taken over some areas and because of the annoyance of their screaming noise no one else will camp the area. So there are many state lands even though open to the public that no one wants to use because of the noise annoyance. It can probably also be assumed The more bikes the more regualations that are broken. I’ve seen the DNR chasing bikes on state land in the fall.
    You can also discuss why the DNR have outlawed bikes during deer season because of the bikes annoying noise.
    The noise pollution the track supporters is so underated because they consider only one bike in their stats not 25-100 of units running at once.
    Consider the Dome Stadium and how more people can make so much more noise.
    Also the track has support from Fergus Falls. One has to take into account that the track is a Dome.
    If they have the money and get it approved they should have to at a minimum DOME IT. So as it respects the neighbors rights.
    Of course some people are totally inconsiderate of a neighbors right to be able to go outside and enjoy their weekend in a relatively quiet environment.
    No different than barking dogs. body shops etc or the laws they pass in cities to maintain lets call it a noise respect.
    Do a search on lawsuits and motocross. Injuries, Deaths, Irresponsible, Noise, increasing government regulations.
    Hmmm Accidents. Does it now put a strain on our emegency services. And may put other lives in jepordy.
    This is not a friendly business to support.

    May 4, 2010
  13. Jane Moline said:

    Sorry Griff–it destroys the land the track is on. The compaction make it unusable for other purposes. Just like paving a parking lot, only a lot messier, dirtier and dustier.

    Right now the intersection has no gas station and no warehouse business polluting the night sky with lights–and such businesses would not cause the kind of noise pollution that motor “sports” cause. This is the kind on UNsustainable sport we would all be better off ELIMINATING.

    May 4, 2010
  14. Karen Umphress said:

    There are a lot of interesting comments regarding the motocross track. I would like to address some of the points.

    First, in response to motocross being a sport. There have been studies that indicate that motocross is indeed a sport. It has been slated and the second most physically intense and demanding sport after soccer. There is a study currently being done in Canada that shows that dirt bike trail riding, a less physically demanding variation of motocross, can cause people to lose weight by using that activity as their only form of physical exercise and without changing their eating habits. One local dirt bike rider wore a heart rate monitor and measured his physical exertion levels during a dirt bike activity known as an enduro. The enduro heart rate levels exceeded that of a person running a marathon. So, if Curling is an official Winter Olympics sport, the motocross should definitely be considered a sport.

    Regarding the destruction of the land used on a motocross track, it is safe to say that if using a machine to move dirt around the land is the basis for ‘environmental damage’, then most of the land in Minnesota is damaged. Farmer’s fields move more dirt with a machine more often than just about any other activity. It is true that this dirt movement is for the production of food, which is a very appropriate use of the land. But dirt is moved by a machine on a farm field so that can’t be the only reason to classify it as ‘damaged’. If you want to compare dirt movement for a purpose of just recreational activity, then look no farther than Mississippi Headwaters State Park. The Minnesota DNR moved a ton of dirt with machines. They built a river bed, lined it with rocks, put sand in the bottom. All of this dirt moved for aesthetic purposes only, so that people can recreate near the mouth of the river and claim that they walked over or through the mighty river. The Mississippi origin is a spring and the area is naturally a smelly bog. If you don’t believe me, go a foot out of the State Park and look at the river. The efforts of the DNR in the park are also unsustainable. A lot of time and money are spent each year to keep the park looking as it is only for the purposes of the people who use the park (their doers). Since it is not natural terrain, without the continual effort of the tax payers money, park visitors fees, and the DNR, the park would eventually revert to it more natural form. So does moving dirt with a machine for a recreational purpose really equate to damaging the land? Or maybe it is more of a personal preference. If you don’t like the results, it must be damage.

    Oh, and by the way, compacted trail surfaces erode less than non compacted trail surfaces so compaction isn’t necessarily bad either. And please find a study for me that actually shows that burning fossil fuels is a terrible thing for the environment. I can only find studies, including the first IPCC report, that show that an increase of carbon follows higher temperatures not one that shows that an increase of temperatures precedes higher temperatures.

    May 5, 2010
  15. Karen Umphress said:

    Next I would like to address the comments that a motocross bike is the same thing as an ATV. This is incorrect. According to Minnesota statute (84.92, sub 8), an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) [class 1] is a motorized flotation-tired vehicle of not less than three low pressure tires, but not more than six tires, that is limited in engine displacement of less than 800 cubic centimeters and total dry weight less than 900 pounds. An Off-Highway Motorcycle (OHM) (84.787, sub 7) is a motorized, off-highway vehicle traveling on two wheels and having a seat or saddle designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control, including a vehicle that is registered under chapter 168 for highway use if it is also used for off-highway operation on trails or unimproved terrain.

    Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs) are not allowed for use in Minnesota’s State Parks, Scientific and Natural Area, and Wildlife Management areas, unless it is classified as a Highway Licensed Vehicle as well. On state land, they are only allowed in the State Forests. According to the 2008 MN DNR Off-Highway Vehicle trails map (the most current available), there are 31 designated OHV trail systems. Of those, two trail systems are in OHV parks and allow all three kinds of OHVs; one in Appleton and one in Gilbert. Twenty-one of the trail systems as designated as ATV only, 6 are designated as ATV and OHM, and 2 are designated as OHM only. So it is not correct to say that motocross bikes (aka OHMs) are allowed on every ATV trail. They are, however, both allowed on State Forest Roads and Minimum Maintenance Roads.

    While it is true that OHVs are not allowed to use recreational trails during the firearms deer season, it doesn’t just apply to OHMs, but to all OHVs. It is also only for the firearms season, and not the bow season, muzzle-loader season or any other type of hunting season. The exception to this rule is for OHVs used for game retrieval. Any type of OHV, including OHMs, can be used for game retrieval if all of the requirements have been met, such as a big game license.

    I brought a DNR Parks and Trails person to view an Enduro in Huntersville State Forest. During this enduro, there were 170 bikes in the woods. After several minutes where only the traffic on the road behind us was heard, we head the sound of a dirt bike. I asked the person to start counting, 1001, 1002, etc. At about 10 seconds, we saw the dirt bike come racing towards the check point where we were waiting. So with 170 bikes in the woods that day, we were still able to hear a bike only about 10 seconds before we saw it.

    My local dirt bike club has roughly 80 members, with a maximum of 110 members. The number one cause for injury from people in the group is softball games. The second biggest is volleyball games. Injuries caused from dirt bike riding are probably at 3 injuries in the last 10 years.

    It is true the dirt bike riders can’t think only of themselves and should consider others around them, but the same is true of everyone else. We are all on this earth together and every single one of us has different likes and dislikes. Mine aren’t better or worse than yours, just different.

    May 5, 2010
  16. Griff Wigley said:

    Faribault Daily News:

    Motokazie moves forward

    Motokazie is moving forward with the Planning Commission’s support. The commission at its meeting Thursday unanimously backed an ordinance change request necessary for the project to advance.

    The ordinance change would allow organized motor sports in a highway commercial district with a conditional-use permit. The existing ordinance limits motor sports to agricultural and urban-reserve zoning districts.

    Critics: Motokazie fight far from over

    Motokazie opponents vow to fight on despite the Rice County Planning Commission’s unanimous decision to recommend an ordinance change necessary to clear the way for a motor sports park.

    The proposal must go before county commissioners. Because it is an ordinance change, the proposal will fail if just two of the five county commissioners vote against it. Critics of the project focused on ensuring that happens.

    May 8, 2010
  17. Griff Wigley said:

    Galen Malecha, District 2 Rice County Commissioner, will be on our radio show/podcast today discussing this issue. It should air at 6pm today on KYMN 1080am. I’ll have the podcast episode posted by early Tues morning.

    May 10, 2010
  18. Griff Wigley said:

    Jane, a motocross track is primarily constructed and sculpted. Dirt is dug out of one spot and piled up in another spot. They even build the tracks for weekend events indoors at the Metrodome in Mpls. So there’s really no ‘destroying’ of the land on which a track is built. If they track were to fail, it could easily be bulldozed flat again and returned to it’s original condition. You make it sound like a coal mine operation that blows the tops off mountains!

    And while you might not like the sport, it’s legitimate and popular and the tracks have to go somewhere. I’d rather not see them located in agricultural zones. Alongside a rural stretch of freeway is a much better location.

    May 10, 2010
  19. Griff Wigley said:


    I think you’re confusing ATV with the DNR’s all-purpose term OHV – off highway vehicle. Dirt motorcycles are referred to as OHM – off highway motorcycles, and off-road vehicles (ORVs) are jeeps and trucks.

    Seen DNR’s website:

    I think the abuse of land by some OHV riders, especially some ATV riders is a huge problem. The Star Tribune did a big 3-part series two years ago titled:

    Renegade riders

    Pretty shocking.

    But it’s unfair to bring that set of problems/misbehavior into this discussion. It’s completely irrelevant to a motocross park.

    May 10, 2010
  20. Griff Wigley said:

    Robert, I hope you heard Lee Theis on our show say that the water used to water down the track will come from the holding ponds, not pumped from wells.

    As for economic development being negatively impacted, all three area Chambers of Commerce disagree with you: the Faribault, Northfield, and Lonsdale Chambers have all stated their support for the project.  Here’s the Faribault Chamber statement:

    The Board commented on the positive economic impact on existing businesses in the area, the positive tourism implications and the family friendly business being proposed. They were impressed with the developers proactive approach to likely concerns such as noise and dust, and with his experience and expertise in mitigating these potential issues. 

    May 10, 2010
  21. Robert Palmquist said:

    Hi Griff. Yes, I can certainly see why the chambers from the cities would support the development of the dirt tracks. Back when the county first proposed the hwy zoning district, the cities were against it, saying business should be located within their boundaries instead of out in the country (a grab for who gets the tax revenue; all part of that “city versus county” discussions) . With all these tracks being built in the hwy zone, this now removes that concern — the city’s business parks will be much more attractive to a firm than building next to a place with noise, dust and traffic concerns; plus the cities may actually get some business from people using the dirt tracks. It’s a double win for the cities, but a big loss of potential tax base for the county. Note how none of the chambers have tried to attract the development to their business parks…

    May 12, 2010
  22. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    I really appreciate the interview w/Commissioner Malecha. He sounds firm in his resolve to vote NO to the ordinance change for all the right reasons.

    May 13, 2010
  23. Griff Wigley said:

    Same story, two different headlines:

    Faribault Daily News: Gillen undecided on Motokazie vote

    Nfld News: Commissioner regrets vote against Motokazie hearing

    However, the eventual success of that proposal remained in doubt because ordinance changes require four votes from the county board instead of the usual three, and the board split 3-2 just setting last week’s public hearing.

    Commissioner Jake Gillen was one of those two votes. Although Gillen stops short of saying he’s become a Motokazie supporter, he now says he should have voted differently and that he’s frustrated some Motokazie opponents interpreted his vote to mean he’s in their camp.

    “It didn’t mean anything,” he said. “I don’t even know why I did it. To me, it was the wrong message to send.”

    May 15, 2010
  24. Griff Wigley said:

    Robert, I don’t find the Chambers’ position to be inconsistent. Yes, they opposed the creation of the zone, naturally wanting to protect their ‘turf.’ And they now support Motokazieland because it would regularly draw thousands of people from around the upper midwest, increasing the spending of tourism dollars locally.

    But this doesn’t mean that they should seek to locate the motocross park within their municipalities. Galen Malecha mentioned this argument on our show, too. Parks like these are zoned agricultural/urban reserve for a reason, as you say “noise, dust and traffic concerns.” So what better place than along a freeway?

    May 15, 2010
  25. Griff Wigley said:

    Stephanie, what are the “right reasons” to oppose the park in your opinion?

    May 15, 2010
  26. Griff Wigley said:

    I just realized that the Fbo Daily News version of the story has more info, including this:

    Gillen said he’s glad the hearing took place and that everyone got to have their say. He hasn’t decided how he’ll vote when commissioners take up the issue May 25 — “I’ve been batting it both ways,” he said — but he ticked off several items in Motokazie’s favor:

    • It’s a low-impact project that wouldn’t prevent other businesses from quickly building on the site if the park fails.

    • It manages water runoff in a way that doesn’t hurt any of the neighbors.

    • The county can manage noise, traffic, light and other issues affecting neighbors through the conditional-use permit that would be required if commissioners approve the ordinance change.

    May 15, 2010
  27. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    You ask me what I mean by “right reasons” against this ordinance change.

    Talk to any realtor and I think you will find that a motocross is not the “highest and best use” for this valuable property. Since the project does not require much in the way of buildings, there are no structures to tax. The county gets only about $11,000/yr, I think. Compare that to an Aldi warehouse which would fit the zoning.

    The main impact on neighbors will be noise and I pity anyone having to live next to it. Will area downtowns get much business as a result? Other than the Dundas bars, I doubt it. And, Dundas has come out against the ordinance change. Good for them.

    Will warehouses and other “low impact” hwy business want to come in next to one of the biggest raceways in the area (if not the country)? I doubt it.

    I learned of the problems (traffic snarls, partying, etc.) with the big motocross in Wabasha Cty from a resident there. She says now that there is a contract w/law enforcement and local groups are helping w/parking, so things are somewhat better.

    My biggest objection is SCALE. A motocross of any size will be tough on neighbors, but one this size (140 acres with 8 or 9 tracks) is ridiculous.

    Sure, people (mostly outside the area) involved in this sport are alarmed that Theis’ operation at Elko closed. If he wants to move to Rice County, let him find a spot in the urban reserve districts of Faribault or Lonsdale where he would, from all indications, be welcome.

    Forest Township does not want it and all three supervisors have said so. I have to wonder why the County Board is ignoring them.

    BTW, Karen Umphress offers extensive comments here, but I didn’t catch where she was from. Can you tell me, Karen?

    May 15, 2010
  28. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    Bikers coming from the west on Cty Rd 8 right now, a steady stream lasting almost half an hour, seemed like hundreds. Has Theis got a rally going? I wonder if they turned north on Hwy 3 to Northfield.


    May 15, 2010
  29. Beth Berends said:

    People who ride motocross & supercross trailer their bikes in – they don’t ride down the street. You are probably hearing street bikes in which they do a lot of fundraiser types of rides.

    May 16, 2010
  30. Andreas Thurnheer said:

    To the Karen Umphress comments.

    There is a little difference between the OHV’s and dirt bikes for racing. The difference is what law applies. The DNR and EPA has a 80dbA limit for all of those off highway vehicles. It is also prohibited to temper with the exhaust system of those vehicles.
    Dirt bikes for racing are exempt from EPA’s sound pressure restrictions. And this is the cause of most noise complaints. AMA race rules allows 100dbA for 2010 race season. This is four times the sound pressure of a OHV. And this is not enough the official AMA sound measurement method runs the bike at a low engine speed. If the same dirt bike runs at its optimum performance an other 10-15dbA will be on top of the 100dbA. We can all talk about this. I made measurements during an actual dirt bike race. The sound of those machines is measurable at 4500ft from the race track in a neighborhood. Well if someone claims these dirt bike races are quiet then I am wondering? We might talk about ATV or other regular OHV’s.

    May 16, 2010
  31. Griff Wigley said:

    In last weekend’s Nfld News, two letters to the editor:

    To the editor:

    The name “Motokazie” should tell you everything — a business that makes money on incinerating fossil fuels for folly and paving over a large piece of prime farmland.

    This business is typical of what businesses have done for the past 100 years — they internalize profits to themselves and externalize or socialize the unintended, hidden costs to society and the taxpayers. (Reaganomics?)

    While generating some tax money to the county, costs like more air pollution, noise pollution, light pollution and more ugliness and trashy billboards etc., and more traffic snarls that will scatter down the 35 corridor cannot be ignored.

    We can all pretend that this is just more “inevitable progress” with its unintended consequences that end up costing taxpayers money, or we can just say this is an inappropriate land use — period.

    Lawrence Morgan


    To the editor:

    The critics of the Motokazie project would like everyone to believe that this park will somehow destroy the Circle Lake and Union Lake areas and “wreck the area.” I would like everyone to consider the reality of the situation.

    The reality is this: Three or four homes will be affected. Anyone clinging to the argument that Circle Lake or Union Lake will somehow be destroyed by this is just trying to use emotions to get people opposed to it. Sure, I am a motocross racer, but I do enjoy being on the lake and fishing and wake boarding.

    No one wants to see a lake area destroyed or developed, so this tactic is fairly effective if you ignore the facts. But if you recognize the facts, which estimate approximately 40-45 dba at the lakes, you will realize that the track noise will be no louder than a library.

    The opponents also would like everyone to believe that they oppose this park because it does not conform to the “plan.” I suspect a bit of hypocrisy here because I really doubt anyone opposing this would welcome a temporary asphalt plant or a trucking terminal or a lumberyard. These businesses would require far more money from the county in the way of utilities, road repairs, etc. Motokazie requires zero county dollars and will be an instant benefit in the way of tax dollars and employment and tourism.

    In the end, what it comes down to is very simple. A few people who feel they were burnt in the past are standing up against this and have called to arms their neighbors in Circle Lake.

    The land that is in question has already been fated for development. The residents in Circle Lake knew about this when they moved into their homes, or at least had a chance to fight it in 2005, as did the residents who live along County Road 46. I guarantee they will not welcome any business to the area.

    They have proved this in the past and that is why businesses would rather develop elsewhere. These few are costing everyone in the county by scaring off additional tax revenue.

    This is not good for Rice County and I hope the commissioners will see this for what it is and vote accordingly.

    Jeff Kline

    May 18, 2010
  32. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    Motokazieland celebrates the 6-0 Planning Commission vote

    Hit the upper right site plan for a layout.
    What are People

    May 18, 2010
  33. Tracy Davis said:

    Stephanie, I haven’t been following this particular issue with the attention it deserves (partly because of my own biases about the way Rice Co. has zoned all along 35).

    How would you summarize Dundas’s official position per their statement on 5/6?

    May 18, 2010
  34. Griff Wigley said:

    Dundas Council minutes:

    Resolution 2010-16

    A Resolution Regarding a Requested Amendment to the Rice County Zoning Code to Permit Motorsports as a Conditional Use in the Highway Commercial District

    Motion by Switzer, second by Cruz, to approve Resolution 2010-16.

    Administrator McCarthy noted the proposed development could have a major impact on the intersection of CSAH1 and I35, which is the primary link between Dundas and the Interstate Highway System. He reviewed items being raised and appropriateness of the motor sports operation in the Rice County Highway Commercial District.

    Councilor Ryan and Councilor Zander support the Motor Sports development and Rice County rezoning the area. City Engineer McMahon indicated the area was zoned without provisions to have a conditional use permit for motor sports. Lack of commercial growth is due to lack of infrastructure.

    McCarthy stated the area was zoned for a future distribution area with truck traffic. Jerry Anderson indicated the need to look at compatibility of future commercial/industrial uses. He also indicated the intersection is a prime site and needs to have municipal utilities to attract businesses for development. Anderson was in favor of the committee to relook at the area. Mayor Switzer in favor of the resolution so a committee can relook at the overall zoning of the intersection.

    Motion carried 3 to 2. Yes: Switzer, Cruz, Pribyl. No: Ryan, Zander

    May 18, 2010
  35. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    Engineer McMahon represented Dundas on the committee that worked on the hwy commercial plan. The fact that Cty 1 connects Dundas to the freeway, near which this raceway would be locagted, is reason enough for
    Dundas to be concerned.

    Too bad Northfield is not looking at this matter. I cannot recall who represented Northfield on this commitee, but I think there was one. I wonder why Northfield Council has not seen fit to look at this issue.

    May 18, 2010
  36. Jane Moline said:

    I wonder what the impact would be to neighbors of this motor “sports” park. In the past when a governmental authority has allowed a change in zoning that allows for a business that reduces the value of the surrounding properties, it is considered a “taking” and the surrounding property owners must be compensated for their loss in value. How much is a farm worth that is next to a motor “sports” park versus what it is worth before the motorsports park? Who wants to stay in a motel by a noisy motor “sports” park besides the participants? Who wants to put their highway business near a motor “Sports” park-including warehousing or manufacturing or some other community-beneficial business.

    The facts are there–a motor “sports” park benefits only the park operators and the very small group of motor “sports” enthusiasts. For everyone else it is a noisy consumer or fossil fuels that spews pollution in the the pursuit of a good time, and reduces the value of every property within earshot–which I am told can carry for miles and miles.

    May 21, 2010
  37. kiffi summa said:

    I think aside from the obvious concerns about this ‘development’ there is a more deeply embedded issue…
    I think it was about 5 ( ? ) years ago when the County went through all sorts of contortions to rezone and redirect the thinking about development around the 35/Cnty 1 intersection. And since that time there have been no ‘takers’.
    Now comes along this project which has some serious objections to it as to appropriateness of the location, and quality of life issues relevant to current usage.

    Switch your mind over for the moment, a couple of miles to the North, and the 530 Ac. ‘affectionately’ known as the “Northwest Territories” ( NF’s newly annexed future business park ) .
    What if “they ” don’t come to this ‘field of dreams’?

    After a certain amount of time devoid of development, will NF be faced with a project they don’t like , but must make use of, in order to justify the huge amount of Acreage annexed?

    May 21, 2010
  38. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    Good point, Kiffi. By the same token, there is no assurance that the Master Plan layout HK and the steering committee come up with for the “southern site” (Gill/Prawer) would be followed.

    BTW, from satellite image it looks like the Elko dirt bike track by the baseball park took up about 6-7 acres. At the Rice County location, Lee Theis has plans for 140 acres. A pretty hefty increase, wouldn’t you say? Scale is an issue.

    May 22, 2010
  39. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    Those three letters (Sunderlin, Nelson and Maakestad) opposing the dirt bike project are on the LAST PAGE of the Sports section of today’s paper! No one will find them unless they are checking the classifieds, as I was.

    The main piece on Motokazie is the Gilbertson opinion piece in the regular letters section. Well written. Good photo of him, too. Compares the sound to jack hammers.

    May 22, 2010
  40. Robert Palmquist said:

    Breaking (and not verified) news: Word has it that the Motokazie proposal was rejected by the Commissioners, Malacha and Docken voted no, so it did not pass.

    May 25, 2010
  41. Robert Palmquist said:

    Yep, looks like it’s true. So what’s next for Motokazie? With their first and now second sites not working (Lee said he initially wanted to locate on the East side of I-35 versus the West side), do they pick another site in Rice County? Or look elsewhere?

    May 25, 2010
  42. Robert Palmquist said:

    Wow, I just went and read some of the blogs on the Northfield News and Faribault News sites — ouch. Basically a bunch of name calling. Gotta give some cudos to this site for having discussions that are actually discussions. Thanks Griff for keeping Locally Grown going!!!

    May 25, 2010
  43. Griff Wigley said:

    You’re welcome, Robert… and thanks for your kind words.

    As for the pros and cons of the anonymous comments attached to the articles on the Nfld News and Fbo Daily News sites, see the discussion here on LG:

    May 26, 2010
  44. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    I returned from a long weekend to find more on the motor sports topic in editorials and letters to editor. Catherine Peterson of Webster Township has a thank-you to commissioners Docken and Malecha for their no votes on the ordinance change.

    NNews had an editorial calling it an unfortunate vote in terms of lost tax base, etc. They must not have checked this out, because the paltry $40,000/yr on the 140-acre parcel ($11,000 of it to the county) does not compare with $197,544 in property tax for 2010 on the Aldi Warehouse on 131.2 acres to the south on the same road.

    I say hold out for the uses for which the zone was intended.


    June 3, 2010
  45. Griff Wigley said:

    Fbo Daily News: Township board asks to limit motor sports in ag zones

    Less than a week after it helped kill a motor sports ordinance, Forest Township requested its own ordinance change that would further restrict organized motor sports.

    On June 1, Bill Malecha, a township supervisor, submitted a zoning amendment request on behalf of the township board that asks to limit organized, commercial motor sports operations to eight days of use per year in agricultural zones.

    June 12, 2010
  46. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    Lee Theis has made it known that the Simon horse farm (said to be 150-160 acres) is his new target for his dirt bike racing and RV park on I-35 north of the Big Steer. This is Webster Township of Rice County. Why does this man persist in trying to locate his dream project in our county? Why not LeSueur or Dakota County where he is known?

    A woman supporting the raceway was heard to say a regional project like this could draw 30,000 visitors on a weekend. Is this the kind of gateway to Northfield we want? Northfield mayor and City Council should weigh in on this before it’s too late.

    Stephanie Henriksen

    Another topic: Sheriff’s office has sent out an alert to watch for 4-door silver truck burglarizing rural residences in Millersburg/Shieldsville area.

    July 14, 2010
  47. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    I just learned that Lee Theis has chosen a 160-acre farm on Cty 9 (borderline of Bridgewater and Cannon City townships) south of me for his raceway. He says he expects a more welcoming atmosphere at this location. We will see.

    It is a little inland from I-35 not far from Circle Lake. A copy of the application, I’m told, is at Rice Cty Planning and Zoning.

    November 11, 2010
  48. Griff Wigley said:

    Thx for the heads-up, Stephanie. Lee’s announcement is posted here.

    The approximate location is not near Circle Lake, not even Fox Lake. It’s east of I35 on Cty 9, tho it’s not clear if it’s north or south of Cty 9 and thus, as you say, whether it’s in Bridgewater Township or Cannon City Township. Here’s my Google map with a pushpin.

    November 11, 2010
  49. Griff Wigley said:

    I just spoke to Lee Theis by phone. The farm is south of Cty 9 in Cannon City Township. His application fits the county zoning so this will be a two-step process, ie, Rice County Planning Commission, then the Board. Since it’s not a request for a zoning change like last time, a simple majority of the Board (3 of 5) is required for approval.

    All the environmental studies are being done now. He expects it to go before the Planning Commission early in 2011.

    November 11, 2010

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