SONOMA, Calif. (March 22) - The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors gave unanimous preliminary approval Tuesday to the proposed masterplan for Sears Point Raceway, which will enable the facility to move forward with its $35 million Modernization...
SONOMA, Calif. (March 22) - The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors gave unanimous preliminary approval Tuesday to the proposed masterplan for Sears Point Raceway, which will enable the facility to move forward with its $35 million Modernization Plan.
The Board of Supervisors approved a new use permit and facility masterplan for the Raceway by a 5-0 margin in a preliminary vote. A formal vote on a final resolution is expected April 25.
The final decision will end a three-year process for Raceway officials, who are looking forward to transforming Sears Point Raceway into the premier road-racing venue in the world.
"This is a landmark day for Sears Point Raceway and for motor racing in Northern California," said Steve Page, track president and general manager. "We are anxious to begin the work of transforming Sears Point Raceway into one of this area's premiere event facilities."
Members of the Board of Supervisors outlined a series of operating conditions that will govern Sears Point's new use permit, including a comprehensive noise monitoring program and construction of a pedestrian tunnel under Highway 121. Sears Point's five major events, which include NASCAR and NHRA drag racing, will not be subject to noise monitoring.
"We appreciate the support and confidence of the Board of Supervisors and we are particularly grateful to the many members of the public who have provided their input and support over these last three years," Page said.
Raceway officials requested 12 changes from the conditions recommended by the Planning Commission, and most were granted by the Board. Most notably, Sears Point was given permission to run 12 additional night races for its Legends Series, which will take place on a smaller-scale track that is part of the Modernization Plan. Also, the Board allowed Sears Point's request to use two-stroke engines for Go-Kart racing.
"Sears Point has bent over backwards to address concerns and to mitigate potential impacts and I'm ready to move forward with this project," said Supervisor Mike Kerns.
Added Supervisor Paul Kelly: "I think every attempt has been made to deal with the concerns the best way we can. In the end, this facility provides a positive presence in Sonoma County."
The raceway's Modernization Plan was first introduced in the spring of 1997. The project has evolved in a number of ways as it has moved through the environmental review process, culminating with Tuesday's decision.
Most notably, the raceway eliminated plans for 65,000 permanent grandstand seats in favor of naturally landscaped terraces built into the adjacent hillsides. In addition, the Raceway lowered the height of the proposed east grandstands at the start-finish line from 62 to 51 feet, reducing the visual impact from the highway. Attendance limits will also be adopted, limiting Sears Point to one event day each year with attendance in excess of 100,000, which would be race day of the NASCAR Winston Cup.
Some of the key components of the Modernization Plan include:
· New buildings that are visually compatible with the grasslands and rolling hills of the surrounding landscape.
· Permanent offices to replace trailer facilities and provide room for business growth.
· Dramatically expanded entrance and access roads to reduce traffic congestion on event days.
· A new system of walkways, tunnels, bridges and spectator shuttle routes to separate vehicle and pedestrian traffic and improve internal circulation.
· Upgraded infrastructure including new water and sewer systems, roads and indoor restrooms.
· Beautiful trees and landscaping to screen the track from Highway 121 and provide shade and picnic areas for visitors.
Moreover, Sears Point will also set aside more than 100 acres for wetlands creation, the creation of habitat for California Red Legged Frogs and solutions for storm water runoff and siltation.