White Hall Progress logo

Open hearing on track permit

If you support or oppose a proposed mud racing track in Jefferson County, you had an opportunity Thursday evening to state your opinion. You also have until Friday afternoon to file a written comment.

When a standing-room crowd fills a meeting room at the White Hall Public Library, you know there is interest. Both sides were given an opportunity to submit written as well as verbal comments.

Mike Porta, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Air Division assistant chief, announced at the start of the hearing that he was extending the period for written comments by a week. The comments may be submitted to Mike Porta, Air Division, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, 5301 Northshore Drive, North Little Rock, Ark. 72118, by 4:30 p.m. Friday to be considered

George Huntley, doing business as Wildman Race Track, has proposed developing the dirt track at 9322 Huntley Trail, Pine Bluff. The ADEQ is reviewing Huntley’s permit application.

Opponents cited noise, dust, litter, drinking, fighting and lower property values during the public hearing. Supporters said the fears are unfounded, with races planned for one Saturday each month, for five to six months annually.

One opponent, who said he is the president of a hunting club that leases land adjacent to the proposed track site, raised concerns about traffic, litter and a gate he said has been repeatedly damaged.

Two women raised the issue of “big trucks, fighting, drinking, the fire danger, litter and lower property values.” One drew applause and boos when she submitted a petition signed by 79 individuals opposed to the track.

Two proponents cited the economic impact of the track, saying the track would bring visitors and racers from South Arkansas and potentially other states for the races.

By holding a hearing, ADEQ demonstrated the right of any citizen to comment on issues before regulatory agencies.