TWIN FALLS — The Magic Valley may soon have a new motocross park.
The Twin Falls County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a request for a special use permit Thursday from Magic Valley Motocross to build a track, parking lot and other facilities on 50 acres next to the Magic Valley Speedway.
The lot is owned by the county and city of Twin Falls, and is near the Magic Valley Regional Airport. The motocross club has to work out a lease with the city before building the track.
Jake Barfuss, who presented the permit application on behalf of the motocross club, said a track is needed in Twin Falls. The closest tracks are in Rupert and Boise. Without a local track, many families spend hours driving to and from practices and races.
“All of us drive like 45 minutes, bare minimum, to get anywhere to enjoy our sport, so we just want to bring it to the valley,” Barfuss said.
A number of families, including both parents and children, who are involved in motocross also spoke of the need of a designated place for people to ride their motorcycles locally.
Jeremiah Higley, the general manager of Adventure Motorsports, said he has four children for whom motocross is their passion. He noted the city and county have invested in other sports by building soccer fields or mountain bike trails, but have not done the same for motocross.
In addition to creating more opportunities for the sport, building a track would remove some motorcycles from local trails in the Sawtooth National Forest and Bureau of Land Management property.
“By creating a track, we’re going to take some of the users away from those areas and take some of that pressure off, because now they have a designated place where they can ride and practice their skills,” Higley said.
In his presentation to the commission, Barfuss said the motocross club plans to hold practices on Wednesdays and two weekends per month. The club also hopes to hold two races a month, which would replace a couple of the weekend practices. These track operations would take place between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. from March through October.
Two residents who live near the proposed site spoke in opposition of the project during Thursday’s permit hearing. They raised concerns over the noise and dust the track could generate.
Ralph James, who pastures cattle on property north of the track site, said the noise from the nearby Magic Valley Speedway has agitated his cattle to the point of the cows breaking through his fence and scurrying away. He is worried that the noise from the motocross track would only add to this issue.
He also questioned whether the local roads have the ability to handle the amount of traffic the track would generate when 1,000 people gather for races.
“I wish them luck in finding a track, but this is not the place to do it,” James said.
The commission supported the project location. Commissioners said the site is surrounded by similar uses, such as the speedway, and is within the airport overlay, rather than an agricultural zone.
The commissioners unanimously approved the project with conditions establishing what times and months the track would be open.
They also added a condition that states the club must adequately control dust from leaving the property. The commissioners did not specify how this must be accomplished.