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I-70 Motorsports Park earns conditional use permit to reopen in Odessa

LEXINGTON, Mo. -- Planning commissioners gave developers the green flag Wednesday night to start finalizing plans to reopen the old I-70 Speedway.

At a meeting last month in Odessa in front of hundreds of racing fans, commissioners asked the county attorney to draw up the conditions a developer would have to meet to reopen the track.

But commissioners voiced several new concerns Wednesday at a meeting at Lafayette Hall in Lexington.

Their main concerns were noise and traffic. One commissioner was surprised sound and traffic studies, required before developers submit a final site plan, hadn't already been done.

But racing fans have wondered why there are these new concerns for a track with a 40-year history of racing.

Then known as I-70 Speedway, the track closed in 2008. The developer behind Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka recently bought it and ripped up the pavement and the trees growing in the middle of the track. He then started grading out a 3/8-mile dirt track and the site for a quarter-mile drag strip.

But he hit a snag with the permit.

One commissioner was particularly concerned with what would happen in the event of a tornado at a race with up to 8,000 fans.

“I wouldn’t want my wife to take my kids some place with not enough exits and something happened and someone would say who allowed this to happen?" the commissioner said.

The track's owner, Chris Payne, told commissioners he'd cancel events if there were threats of severe weather.

Other conditions for permit approval include a direct contact number for neighbors to call with traffic complaints, a set number of traffic control personnel depending on race attendance, a maximum of 70 racing events from April to October, and a sound limit of no more than 85 decibels within 250 feet of property.

“Our job here is to make informed decisions, and that’s why we want to get the most information we can get," the planning commission chairman told the audience.

“I think everything they are asking for is for reasonable. They might have tried to find out more on their own rather than waiting for people to bring them information. That could have sped process up quicker. But I don’t think the process they went through was out of line on anything," Cindy Dickmeyer said.

The conditional use permit still needs to go before the full Lafayette Council council for approval.

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