Darren Doyle, story and photo
Several residents from the Nolin Dam area attended the Monday, July 27 Fiscal Court meeting to voice their concerns regarding the noise level from the nearby Blue Holler ATV Park. The land is privately owned by local attorney Gary Logsdon with the facility being run by Kevin Nelson, from Clarkson. Several at the meeting said a curfew for this and other similar businesses and events are necessary.
One local resident, Keith Lamastus, said a recent concert held on the property this past weekend was far too loud and lasted until 1 or 2AM. He also complained about the constant noise levels from ATV's which he said seemed to go on 24 hours a day.
"The concert sounded just like they were in my backyard," he said. "I'm not against business, and I'm not against a man making a dollar. We're not for shutting it down, let's just put a curfew on it." LaMastus then quoted a KRS statute regarding a statewide noise ordinance. He wanted to know why it wasn't being enforced.
The property of another resident and local businessman, Forrest Jaggers, borders the ATV park. "I can't even sit on my porch on the weekends and enjoy a cup of coffee without this bullcrap going on," he said. "If we have to, we'll take this to a higher court. How many citations have been written out here? I want to know," he asked.
Sheriff Shane Doyle said he was aware of the noise statute, but there were several gray areas within. He said the law was written in 1972 and that the enforcement of the law could be interpreted differently, depending on who was reading it. He also said the law doesn't state what the punishment is. "If I write a citation for that, I don't know what comes next," he said. "It's very vague, there have been no updates on this law since it was written."
Jaggers said, "You say you don't know this or that, well, I say find out. Let's do something. That's not too much to ask of this body." Doyle said he certainly would find out the details. LaMastus then quoted another KRS regarding the law, but a specific punishment was not listed in what he read. One place discussed that fines could not exceed what a local agency has already imposed, but in the case of Edmonson County, that would be none, as there is no local noise ordinance in place.
LaMastus said there was more than just noise involved. He said there is constant mud on the highway at the entrance to the park, and that ATV riders and spectators ride through and park in Cove Hollow Cemetery. "We've tried being good neighbors, but this has gone too far."
Judge Cannon said as long as there is "no parking" signs posted, (which according to citizens there were) then any and all vehicles on the property could be towed at the owner's expense.
Clayton Pardue echoed the same concerns. "It's like Mad Max on some days with Sand Rails, Razors, ATVs, golf carts, anything with a motor up and down that road."
County Attorney J.B. Hines invited the citizens to meet with him, the Judge, and the Sheriff to research the statute and see what could be enforced. "My office is certainly open to you or any member of the community," Hines said. "We can sit down and look at this together."
The attending residents seemed to be satisfied that county officials were willing to work with them. "All we're asking for is a reasonable curfew," Jaggers said.
Judge Cannon ended the discussion by saying "We're going to develop a plan, we're going to execute a plan and we'll do the best we can to help you."
Rhonda Clemmons, head of Tourism, was recently hired by the county to seek out businesses that weren't properly following the county recreation tax laws. The ATV park was on her list. The tax is 50 cents on each admission to a recreational or entertainment event in the county such as canoeing, camping, golfing, and most recently, karaoke facilities. The tax is supposed to go to Parks and Rec.
Clemmons said she has spoken with Mr. Nelson regarding the tax and that he was willing to work with the county on making things right. Clemmons said he was also willing to pay back taxes, but she didn't know how much that would be as there was no record of how many people had been in and out of the park since it's beginning. She said they last spoke about 10 days ago but according to her, he said he'd have to wait until he opened up a bank account to pay the taxes.
We later spoke with Kevin Nelson, the facilitator of the park and he said he was aware of a few folks that were upset with noise but not many. He also said none of the nearby residents had ever contacted him regarding any potential problems. "That would be the first thing that would have needed to be done, in my opinion," he said, but also noted that he wasn't sure if anyone had spoken with Logsdon, the property owner.
As far as the concert goes, he said he made all the necessary preparations in order to have the concert. "I checked and there was no sound ordinance, I checked for a permit, and there was no permit because of no sound ordinance. I let everybody know we'd be done around midnight, and we were," he said. "I also kept it a good half-mile off the road."
Nelson said he would be more than happy to work with county officials as well local citizens. "We ain't there to make anybody mad, that's for sure." Nelson said the business opened last fall and they're only open on weekends. He estimated a couple hundred folks go through there on a busy weekend.
He also said as far as he knew, parking in the cemetery was a one-time incident due to a shortage of parking on an extremely busy weekend and that the cemetery road was not blocked. He said that the cars in the cemetery were moved off the property before dark on that day.
Nelson also said he would have paid the taxes already, but he had broken his hand which put him behind schedule. "We have an accountant working on that, and she knows everything that goes through our park. Whatever it needs to be is what I'll pay," he said. "I don't know how much any of that is, but whatever it is, is whatever it is. We're going to pay our taxes just like any other business."
Nelson closed by saying "It's hard to make everybody happy. I know the concert deal is going to get a little loud, but it's something we're going to do from time to time, not every weekend, but you know, a couple times a year. We'll try to have it shut down by midnight. Most nights, the riders are through by 10 o'clock other than 4 or 5 little four wheelers that you couldn't hear go down the road anyway. We're willing to work with anybody, it's up to Gary what we do, it's his ground, I just kind of do whatever he wants me to do."
Mr. Logsdon spoke with us and said, "The only thing I'll add is this: I'll support him (Nelson) and what he said because it's correct, but also that any business that develops in any community owes the people that were there first, the respect and dignity of trying to accommodate their needs, and to impact their lives as minimally as possible."
Logsdon said he was aware of the noise associated with the park, but that the noise could be controlled. He said there was also noise associated with farming, airplanes overhead, trucks, and all types of other noise contamination in our environments, but he was willing to work with anyone necessary to solve those issues. "Whatever actions that are necessary to accommodate the community, I'll support."
He said as far as a curfew was concerned, it would depend on the definition and terms of the curfew proposed by county officials before he could comment further.