Motocross firm starts its drive for track in Maltby

MALTBY – A proposed motocross track on a 58-acre gravel pit has revved up support and opposition among neighbors.

MXGP Inc. of Kirkland has applied for a permit to build the track at 18827 Yew Way.

The company has reached an agreement with Rinker Materials to buy the parcel, pending a permit, MXGP President Gary Strode said Tuesday.

“We put in two years of planning” to be a good neighbor, he said.

Strode said he hopes the multimillion-dollar project will receive a permit from Snohomish County in June. The track would start operating in August or September, he said.

The county sent a letter about the project to area residents last week. Jon Akers, who lives a few hundred yards from the gravel pit, and others plan to fight the track.

“We’re pretty outraged that the county is even considering this,” Akers said.

Residents will discuss a proposed motocross track at 7 p.m. March 2 at the Maltby Community Club at the corner of 206th Street SE and 87th Avenue SE.

The track would make the quiet neighborhood noisy and decrease property values, said Akers, a licensed real estate agent.

He and others visited neighbors and distributed fliers against the project. They have formed a grass-roots group and plan to hire a lawyer, he said.

“We are going to do whatever it takes to stop this,” Akers said.

The unknowns about the project have stirred up emotions and concerns, Strode said.

The track wouldn’t be very noisy, he said. It would be built in a 25-foot-deep bowl on a hill, which is 450 feet above sea level. The noise of motorcycles usually expands upward like a mushroom cloud, he said.

“The sound can’t go up and go down again” to reach surrounding houses down the hill, Strode said.

The track actually would benefit the community, helping the area’s economy thrive and expand, Strode said.

“We fill restaurants. We fill hotels. We fill gas stations,” he said of motocross enthusiasts.

MXGP has looked for a place to build a new track since late last year, when the county shut down a track adjacent to soccer and baseball fields on farmland south of Monroe. The track came under fire in 2004, when the county began looking at athletic fields built on farmland without permits.

State legislation passed in 2005 to allow some youth play fields on farmland excluded the motocross track.

The previous track drew about 35,000 users annually, Strode said. If built, the new track in Maltby would start on a smaller scale.

Pat McDonald, who lives several blocks from the proposed new site, said he supports the project. McDonald, a homebuilder, doesn’t believe the track would decrease property values.

His son grew up riding motorcycles, McDonald said.

“It kept him out of trouble. It kept him occupied,” McDonald said, adding the track would be a good place for family gatherings.

Besides, the area already is noisy because of the gravel pit and other industrial businesses, McDonald said.

Donna Ambrose, a spokeswoman for County Executive Aaron Reardon, said the county may take public comments on the permit process, but a date for a hearing has yet to be set.

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