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Pasco County to sue motocross star

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Published:   |   Updated: April 26, 2013 at 05:12 PM
DADE CITY -

Pasco County plans to sue international motocross star Chad Reed to stop him from using his 63-acre compound for training and go-kart racing.

The county's legal staff say Reed has continued to race motocross bikes at the complex even though he forfeited the conditional-zoning permit for the track.

The lawsuit is the latest maneuver in a lengthy legal battle with the racing star. County commissioners were set to revoke the conditional-use permit for Reed's motocross track in March when he thwarted them by transferring ownership of the entire 63-acre compound to a trust for his two children.

Reed has never attempted to hide his use of the track. A week after the title transfer, he tweeted a photo of himself riding on the track. He posted a video on YouTube March 22 of himself training for an upcoming race.

The video also introduces members of Reed's TwoTwo racing team, which he founded in 2011. Mechanic Oscar Weidman tells viewers the dynamic on Reed's team is unique because the rider and owner are one in the same.

“Whatever the rider wants, the rider gets,” Weidman said. “He signs the checks.”

The video shows team members shooting assault rifles at the track. “Whenever we're done, we play around here at the TwoTwo compound,” Weidman said. “We've got all the toys here that you need.”

Reed's latest hobby, go-kart racing, set off the latest skirmish with neighbors and county officials. Last year he built a mile-long paved track on the property and started racing 250cc engine shifter go-karts with friends. Neighbors complained about the noise, and county zoning officials said the karts were not allowed on the site without a conditional use permit.

Reed has challenged that ruling.

“I have always maintained that the agricultural zoning of my property does not prohibit me from riding ATVs, motorcycles or go-carts and I will continue to enjoy the use of my property with my friends and children with those pursuits,” Reed wrote in an email to the Tribune in March.

In her determination, Zoning Administrator Carol Clarke rebuked Reed's assertion. She pointed out that he doesn't live on the property, so he can't argue that either track is an incidental use.

Clarke said her ruling doesn't apply to all individuals who ride motorized vehicles on private property — only when they construct a track that requires excavation, fill, paving or tree removal.

“Clearly tracks of this magnitude are not customarily incidental to residential uses,” she wrote. “Reaching that conclusion would permit tracks of this magnitude in virtually every residential backyard in Pasco County.”

Clarke found that even though Reed does not charge admission to the property, she considers it a commercial endeavor.

“In the case of Reed, the outdoor track and the indoor replica tracks were constructed to serve as world-class motocross training for Reed and his team,” she wrote. “Use of the facility for practice is an activity carried out for pecuniary gain. Reed has been professionally filmed using the tracks, and this activity edited into videos produced in support of Reed and his branding. Such activity is carried out for pecuniary gain.”

Barbara Wilhite, Reed's attorney, called Clarke's report inaccurate.

“The board's consideration of the memorandum and action on it, which took only 1 minute, 30 seconds, is a wholly illegitimate attempt to stack the deck against our client and deprive him of his rights,” she wrote in a statement to the Tribune. “We expect that a judge will see it the same way.”        

Reed originally was granted a conditional-use permit in 2004 for a 4-acre training track on his property off Duck Lake Canal Road. Six years later he expanded it to 24 acres without a permit.


lkinsler@tampatrib.com

(813)371-1852

Twitter: @lkinslerTBO

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