Terminal's future hinges on vote Racing
fans oppose zoning dirt track out of existence
By BILL BREWER, knoxnews.com
December 5, 2006
Crete Carrier Corp., having cleared two rezoning hurdles in its quest to
consolidate East Tennessee operations, is one step away from investing
about $5.3 million in a Roane County trucking terminal.
Roane County Commission is scheduled to vote on rezoning the Atomic
Speedway site near Buttermilk Road at the Loudon County line Dec. 11.
Mike Farmer, Roane County mayor, isn't sure how the commission will vote
because the rezoning has become so emotionally charged.
Dirt track racing fans are opposing the move, saying county leaders
should work with Atomic supporters to preserve the track.
"Atomic Speedway is a tradition; it's been out there a long time. It's a
supercharged issue, and fans feel they have ownership," Farmer said.
Farmer believes some commissioners will vote to rezone the Atomic site,
but he isn't discounting the opposition.
"From a purely economic development standpoint, it is a benefit. But
you're losing a part of Roane County history," he said. "Dirt track
racing has always been part of the South, and it would be the end of an
The county's Industrial Development Board unanimously recommended Nov. 7
that the property be reclassified from commercial to light industrial to
accommodate Crete's plan to build a truck terminal on the Atomic site.
Roane County's Planning Commission approved the rezoning Nov. 29.
Leslie Henderson, president and CEO of the Roane Alliance, Roane
County's economic development agency, shares Farmer's views about the
"At the Alliance, we have mixed emotions about it. We've been touting
the speedway as a tourism draw," Henderson said. "It's a private owner
and a private sale of the property, and the track just isn't going."
Chip Miller, a Realtor with R.M. Moore Commercial Real Estate Co., which
is brokering owner Ed Adams' sale of the racetrack to Crete, said Atomic
has seen its last race, regardless of the County Commission vote.
Miller said Adams and Crete are optimistic county commissioners will
affirm the rezoning and give Crete the go-ahead to build its terminal,
which would create about 50 jobs.
Crete wants to start construction immediately and be in its new terminal
by next fall, Miller said.
"The economic investment would generate an additional $42,868 in
property tax over the current $7,588 in annual property tax," Miller
said. "The site is basically in the path of progress. It is economically
underutilized. The value of the property has increased to a point where
its highest and best use is no longer a racetrack."