10/11/13 — Busco Beach owner to file appeal

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Busco Beach owner to file appeal

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on October 11, 2013 1:46 PM

The owner of Busco Beach and ATV Park says he will appeal the Goldsboro City Council's decision to ban riding ATVs on the property from 11 p.m. until 8 a.m. every day of the week. The restriction was put on the park by the council when it approved a rezoning of the park at its meeting Oct. 7.

The park, which covers almost 680 acres, was rezoned as a General Business Conditional District for use as an outdoor recreation facility.

Jimmy Pierce, the proprietor of Smart Investors, which operates the park, had proposed a ban on riding from midnight until 8 a.m. Sunday through Thursday.

The facility now operates 24 hours a day instead of the 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. schedule under which it first opened.

Pierce said he is not sure if the new restrictions will prove acceptable to him or his customers.

"It went. They approved it. I can't tell (if it is acceptable) until I can tell how people will react," Pierce said.

Pierce was trying this week to get clarification from the city as to when he would have to implement the new hours.

"We typically transition a business into that so they can tell their customers," Goldsboro Public Information Officer Kim Best said. "They won't have to change their schedule until they come back to the next meeting."

During the Council meeting, Yvonne Stanley, who lives on nearby Bryan Boulevard, spoke out about the amount of dust generated by riders at the park on weekends.

Ms. Stanley asked the council to defer a decision on the rezoning until the federal government shutdown ended and the Federal Emergency Management Agency could look into operations on FEMA buyout properties on Bryan Boulevard.

"I have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and I have a right to breathe clean air. That is my right as an American," Ms. Stanley said.

The proposed restrictions said that there is no need for spraying to keep dust down due to the general wetness of the area and the amount of wooded trails.

In addition to the dust, safety has been an issue at Busco Beach for many years. Eleven people have died at the park in vehicle accidents and drownings since 2000.

Since taking ownership, Pierce has instituted a 5 mph speed limit around the park's camping areas and placed signs around the park about safety regulations.

No deaths have taken place since Pierce took ownership in February 2012.

Pierce said he has increased the presence of emergency medical personnel and sheriff's deputies at the park on weekends. He also has hired extra security personnel for special events.

"I have mixed thoughts on this. If it was the original owner, then I'd deny it and put him out of business," Councilman Gene Aycock said during the work session. "(Jack Bennett) has snubbed his nose at every law and ordinance he could."

Pierce purchased Busco Beach from Bennett.

Pierce said Bennett is helping shoulder the cost of the rezoning and certifications associated with bringing the property in line with all applicable regulations.

No zoning changes had been made since the original 246 acres were approved for use as a recreational lake facility and related amenities in June 1994.

The issue came before the city Planning Commission after a lively public hearing on the rezoning in June.

Mrs. Stanley spoke about how the park has changed since it was originally approved in 1994. She said that before any action is taken to approve new construction or rezoning, studies should be done on the impact of the park on wildlife and the effect the park has on air quality and the Neuse River, which runs along its border.

At the meeting, Ms. Stanley said she reported suspected violations at the park to a myriad of state and federal agencies, which got involved in early 2012.

After a letter was sent to the city from the state Department of Public Safety outlining alleged violations at the park, Goldsboro officials became involved in trying to bring the park back in line with the regulations applicable to the use and structures on the property, including violations of the city's Floodplain Management Plan.

Violations included buildings erected without "no rise" certifications to show the structures would not raise the level of the floodplain, campers on the property for more than 180 days, truckloads of fill sediment brought to the property and grading done without approval, and fencing erected on a county-owned parcel of land that was leased to Bennett, the former owner.

A cease and desist order was given on all construction on the property in February 2012.

The order is in effect until all regulations are met and documented.

The state Department of Park Safety notified the city in February that the structures currently on the property meet FEMA "no rise" certification standards, but that any new structures would have to go through the same verification process.

Pierce is expected to seek a lease on city- and county-owned FEMA properties along Bryan Boulevard, much as Bennett had, but City Councilman Chuck Allen said he wants to see fencing erected between the park and the government-owned land.

City Manager Scott Stevens said riders on the property could pose a legal risk to the city, barring a clause releasing the city from legal responsibility in any proposed lease.

The county will follow the city's lead in leasing its FEMA properties along Bryan Boulevard, Wayne County Planning Director Connie Price said.