Governor signs de-annexation of racetrack into law
Last week, Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law HB 1604, sponsored by State Rep. Penny Houston and passed by the Georgia House of Representatives and State Senate during the 2022 legislative session.
The act de-annexes the South Georgia Motorsports Park property from the City of Adel and returns it into unincorporated Cook County. The racetrack will now be regulated under a County ordinance. The de-annexation goes into effect July 1, 2022, according to city officials.
HB 1604 is included in the list of signed legislation on the Governor’s official website, https://gov.georgia.gov/
On Friday, May 13, 2022, Gov. Kemp took final action on several legislative measures, also issuing veto statements for three bills and a signing statement for one. Following the conclusion of the Georgia General Assembly, the governor has 40 days to review legislation and either sign or veto specific measures. Otherwise, any measure on which the governor decides to take no action becomes law.
During a recent interview, Rep. Houston told the Adel News that citizens have contacted State Sen. Goodman and her with concerns about races running into the early morning hours at SGMP and noise issues caused by the Blockstream bitcoin mining facility on Highway 41. She said she approached the City a year ago about the citizens’ concerns and the problems have not been solved.
She said her goal isn’t to shut down the businesses, but “I’m just ready for the problems to be solved.”
City Attorney Tim Tanner sent a letter on behalf of the City of Adel in opposition to the de-annexation to Gov. Kemp, Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston, and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan. Not all the Adel City Council Members agreed to sending the letter, however.
According to the letter, which has already been published in its entirety in the Adel News, “Adel is not in favor of de-annexation of SGMP by a unilateral state legislative change without local involvement and views such a move as an attempt to quash the legitimate goals of the duly elected governments and their right to self-governance.”
The letter states that Adel has “worked in good faith with a group of citizens who have complained about noise associated with operations at SGMP by enacting an ordinance limiting the operational hours of such businesses.”
During a recent interview, Ozzy Moya, owner of SGMP, said local economic development officials have calculated the racetrack’s annual local economic impact – lodging, purchase of food and gas, and more – at $22 million to $25 million a year.
The City annexed the racetrack area in 2017. The County was regulating the hours of operation for the racetrack when SGMP was in its jurisdiction. A number of years after the annexation into the city limits, the Adel City Council enacted an ordinance regarding noise for commercial racetracks on June 7, 2021. In November 2021, SGMP sued the City and the City’s elected officials for alleged “breach of contract” and “tortious interference with business relations.”
The lawsuit is still pending. It is unclear what effect the de-annexation will have on the suit since the racetrack will no longer be in the City’s jurisdiction.
Ozzy Moya told the Adel News that due to onerous ordinance restrictions, especially as far as weekend racing hours are concerned, some promoters of large events have left the SGMP schedule and won’t be coming back.
Apparently, once SGMP is returned to the unincorporated area of the county, the racetrack will again be regulated by the County ordinance that is already in place.