Parish council says ‘no’ to proposed motocross track

After the Washington Parish Council meeting on July 26 opened, the council began by accepting the minutes from the previous meeting. Then the meeting progressed and the long-awaited audit report had to be delivered.

Ms. Michelle Treschwig, of Kushner LaGraize, an accounting and consulting firm, was present at the meeting and updated attendees and board members on the recent audit report. Treschwig explained, “The audit was completed in a timely manner, submitted in June, reviewed and approved by both the Office of the Legislative Auditor and the Federal Audit Clearinghouse.” The report also describes that between 2020 and 2021, Washington Parish’s net position, including assets and liabilities, increased by approximately four million dollars, from fifty-nine million to sixty-three million. According to Treschwig, this growth “is mainly due to the increase in income compared to expenses”.

Along with the parish’s net position, it was also announced that government funds have increased by an additional $1.4 million. Regarding the city report, Treschwig explained that due to recent and recurring natural disasters as well as the current pandemic, it is very rare for all parish funds to end in a very positive fund balance. Concluding his report, Treschwig commented that “the parish is in a very good financial position at this time”.

With the audit report complete and congratulations offered to Chief Financial Officer Donna Graham and all those who worked on this year’s positive audit report, the board moved on to the next item in order. of the Day: Continuation of the discussion and vote from the previous meeting surrounding the proposed permit for Mr. Benny Nixon’s motocross track located on Prentiss Miley Road, east of Pine.

After discussion with the board, it was clear that one of the board members’ concerns was safety, particularly with the hilly and winding highway at the entrance to the track. One councilor noted that the current location of the track entrance is too dangerous and proposed the construction of two separate walkways at a location deemed safest for visitors to enter and exit. From the audience, Mr. Nixon responded and said he would be willing to build two driveways at the requested location.

After the concerns of several council members were voiced, Councilor Reggie McMasters replied, “I believe Mr. Nixon has answered all of our requests.”

“I want to protect the community with conditional use, I want to protect the landowner… If we put all these conditional uses on him and he’s willing to abide by everything, I’m just asking, how can you say no?”

Prior to the vote for the permit, council read aloud the permit conditions for the record; the conditions are as follows: The trade must have both an entry and an exit located at the requested coordinates; hours of operation will be 2-3 days a month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the track will not open on Sundays to avoid interfering with other public gatherings in the community; moreover, customers will park before registering to avoid traffic on the road leading to the entrance; additionally, all riders must wear safety gear such as boots and helmets, and will also ride slowly anywhere off the track; cyclists should also be separated into three categories: small, slow and big fast bikes; bikes must also have a complete exhaust with header pipes, mufflers and mufflers in place before riding; there will also be no booze and cycling; signs should be placed one-quarter and three-quarters of a mile from the track warning drivers and newcomers to slow down; finally, entrances must be provided with a flagman and must be wide and set back 40 to 50 feet. If Mr. Nixon’s lead is found not to meet any of the listed conditions, the business will be shut down.

Once the conditions were listed, the council opened the public debate. Michael Rice, one of Prentiss Miley Road’s neighbors, explained: “It’s wrong, it’s not right. The people there don’t want it. So if it was in your neighborhood and you didn’t want it, you’d all be standing here like me.” After Mr. Rice concluded his statement, more concerned neighbors took the opportunity to share their concerns about the motocross track.

After public discussion, Councilor McMasters moved a motion to accept the permit and its conditions. However, when the vote was taken, apart from Councilor McMaster’s “yes”, the rest of the council voted no and refused Mr. Nixon’s conditional permit. The vote concluded the council’s agenda for the evening, and after departmental and president’s reports, the meeting was adjourned with the next scheduled for August 8.