Tiverton sues to silence motocross track

Claims Brayton Road dirt bike facility violates zoning

EastBayRI.com ·

TIVERTON — The Town of Tiverton is attempting to bring a halt to a motocross and all-terrain vehicle track and trails at 691 Brayton Road, and to that end has filed a lawsuit against Raymond E. Johnson and a company called Camaco Holdings. Both hold ownership or managing interests in the approximately 43-acre Brayton Road site which hosts the activities.
Complaints about the activity and the noise it generates have been made to the town by neighbors, Tiverton Town Administrator Paul McGreevy said.
At its meeting last Tuesday night, the town council discussed in executive session possible actions the town might take, the nature of which it did not disclose. Afterwards, the council emerged to vote 5-0-1, to request that the town solicitor "act in accordance with the discussion" held behind closed doors.
Council member Randy Lebeau cast the sole "nay" vote. All other councilors voted in favor of the instruction(s) to the solicitor (Councilor Joe Perry was absent from the meeting).

What the lawsuit claims
The lawsuit, filed Sept. 11 in Newport County Superior Court, and served on the two defendants claims that the manner in which they are conducting motocross activities on the property "has unreasonably infringed on a right common to the public to live in a community with proper land use and development, violates the Town of Tiverton zoning ordinances, and is a disruption to the quiet enjoyment of other Tiverton property owners."
The site years ago operated as a quarry, and in recent years has also served as a shooting range. The location has now been repurposed as a dirt bike and quad all terrain vehicle track.
In 2009 the entire site was under consideration for the construction of a "motocross park," that Mr. Johnson was then promoting. The presence then of numerous dirt bikers and all terrain vehicles drew neighbor's ire.
The area consists of approximately four lots, of which, according to the court complaint, Camaco Holdings (whose corporate address is listed as 2046 Main Road, Tiverton) owns three lots and Mr. Johnson owns one.
The arena for the dirt bikes and quad vehicles consists of the abandoned quarry, through which dirt trails have been woven, and trails through nearby woods. Numerous You Tube videos accessed through the name of the site — MX 691 — show the trails and tracks, many through cameras attached to helmets.
One rider from Connecticut, Paul Goodchild Ph.D., CPA, commented last July on You Tube, that the site is, "So far, the best place to ride in New England."
"Rhode Island collects hundreds of thousands of dollars from sales tax of dirt bike, ATV. ORV, and other off-road vehicle sales, but provides no place to ride," Mr. Goodchild writes.
"The RI law, best I can tell," he said, "have laws on the books to register ORVs and then allow them places to ride, but there is nothing happening. So, if you are an RI rider, get out to MX691, make a donation, ride and help get this place into top shape so many riders can come and enjoy it."
Contacted for comment about the legal action by phone on Sunday, Oct. 15, Mr. Johnson at first said he was unaware of the lawsuit, and didn't know what he was being asked about.
When pressed, he said all questions should go through his attorney (whom he didn't name). He then hung up.
The complaint in the lawsuit alleges the property is advertised "as a park for motor-cross enthusiasts," and that it advertises a fee of $25 per rider.

Zoning issues, penalties
The property, says the lawsuit, is located in an area zoned as R-80., which it says "does not allow commercial uses."
The complaint says the MX691 track qualifies under the town zoning ordinance as an "Other open commercial recreational use" that is not permitted in an R-80 zone.
The owners of the property, says the complaint, have been illegally putting the property to an "other open commercial recreational use" by operating the motocross activities.
Those activities, the town says, "have made noise that is disruptive to the quiet enjoyment of neighboring properties and constitutes a public nuisance.'
The town says the owners are "liable to abate a public nuisance" and "must cease the zoning violation."
As a remedy, the town is asking the court, first, to declare the motocross activity a violation of the town zoning ordinance and a "public nuisance."
Second, the town is asking for an injunction to cease all motocross activities on the property as well as "all advertisement oif commercial motocross activities" on the property.
Third, the town asks for fines of $500 per day "for each instance of moto-cross activities" on the property in violation of the town zoning ordinance.
And finally, the town asks for all other relief that the court "deems just."