Township officials: Unity race track to take steps to curb late-night noise | TribLIVE.com
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Jeff Himler

Residents who live near Latrobe Speedway in Unity say late-night stock car races kept them up into the early hours last Sunday. They hope there’s no repeat performance this weekend.

Township officials this week said the race track operator has agreed to take steps to curb noise and restrict races from extending late into the night. Track operator Dennis Bates, of SNB Promotions, didn’t respond to several messages seeking comment.

A man who answered the phone at the track on Friday declined to comment beyond what Unity officials said Thursday.

“They had an extremely loud series of races that lasted until 1:44 a.m. (Saturday),” said Richard Stoner, who lives on Anna Goodman Road, about a half mile from the track along Route 981 south of the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. “We could not sleep, even with the windows closed.”

“When the wind is out of the southwest, it sounds like they’re racing in our front yard,” said Stu Thompson, who lives about 2 miles away on Bell Memorial Church Road.

Township Solicitor Gary Falatovich said many residents registered complaints about the late-night noise, which he said resulted from “a perfect storm of events.”

According to Falatovich, the track operator reported that an unusually large crowd showed up for Saturday’s Fan Appreciation Day. Posts on the track’s Facebook page indicate fans were allowed to mingle with drivers on the track at 6:30 p.m., and races were expected to begin at 7:15 p.m.

But, township officials said, racing action reportedly was delayed by accidents on the track and by a medical emergency in the spectator stands.

A speedway Facebook post around 10 p.m. Saturday mentioned a delay to fix ruts in the dirt track to “make sure that all our drivers, spectators and track officials make it home to their loved ones.”

In addition to revving engines, residents complained that the track’s public address system is too loud.

Falatovich said track representatives have agreed to turn down speaker volumes to just loud enough to be heard in the stands. He said they also said they would consider limiting the number of races each evening so they don’t extend past 11:30 p.m.

Stoner said he would prefer races end by 10 p.m.

Falatovich said track operators want to be good neighbors and have agreed to take the noise abatement measures voluntarily. He said the township has little power to force them to make such changes in their operations.

Unity does not have a noise ordinance, which Falatovich noted would have to be enforced for activities in all areas of the township, including the airport.

The state Supreme Court in 1998 overruled the township zoning board’s attempt to block the race track from reopening as a non-conforming use after no races were held there between 1982 and 1994.

Falatovich expressed hope the noise issues will be corrected for additional weekend races — which are scheduled to continue through Sept. 14, with the exception of Sept. 7, according to the Latrobe Speedway website.

“We’ll see what happens on Saturday,” he said.

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