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Ranchers to kill proposed track UPDATE #4 Well, it appears the farmers were not bluffing according to this article.

12/21/06 Riverside Motorsports Park, LLC has received project approval and the entitlements to proceed toward the construction of Riverside Motorsports Park on 1200 acres adjacent to Castle Airport in Merced County, near the city of Atwater in Northern California. Master Plan approval of the project was delivered in the December 19 vote of the Merced County Supervisors. This followed the Supervisors' December 12 vote to certify the project's 10,000-page Environmental Impact Report, which was prepared under the direction of Merced County, in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), by lead consultant EDAW, Inc. of Sacramento, Calif.

With County approval attained, the company is immediately addressing the completion of the required Development Agreement with the County of Merced and the detailed engineering required for construction. “Ground breaking will likely occur some time after midyear 2007,” said Mark Melville, RMP Vice President of Operations.

Headquartered in Atwater, Riverside Motorsports Park was founded more than six years ago by CEO John Condren, entrepreneur and businessman. The project team assembled for the construction phase of the project includes the Fluor Corporation, Granite Construction Company, Rex Moore Electric and Golden Valley Engineering.

12/14/06 Riverside Motorsports Park moved from plan to reality early this morning when the Merced County Board of Supervisors approved the raceway complex in a series of votes that spanned more than 8 hours.  With Supervisors Deidre Kelsey and John Pedrozo dissenting on two key votes, plans for the 1,200-acre racing venue earned just enough support to move forward.

The board's 2:30 a.m. decision followed hours of emotional public testimony from raceway supporters and opponents, and nearly four years of countywide debate over a project that many say will set the course for the county's development for decades to come.  More than 300 people filled the board chambers and nearby overflow rooms at the meeting's 6 p.m. start. When the final vote was cast, the crowd had thinned to a weary three dozen.  While racetrack supporters hailed the decision as an economic boon for the county, opponents called the project's approval an assault on both the environment and local agriculture.

'By approving this project ... you are pushing development to my doorway,' said Karen Crane, whose family runs a farm near the raceway's proposed site, close to the former Castle Air Force Base. 'Our land will never be the same, and that rests in your hands.'  Proponents pointed to the raceway's economic benefits, which are projected to include hundreds of jobs and $180 million in annual business.

12/13/06 Riverside Motorsports Park received significant votes of approval for the development of the project at the Meeting of the Merced County Supervisors that started on the evening of December 12 and concluded around 2:30 a.m. on December 13.  With that said, now the lawsuits begin.

12/12/06 MERCED, CALIF. — When he's not busy branding his cattle or herding them across a lazy country road to pasture, Martin Machado gazes forlornly at the vast swath of farmland cater-corner to his spread. He sees a future he dreads.

That 1,200-acre expanse of almond trees and row crops is poised to become one of the West's premier motor-sports facilities, eight racetracks for everything from motocross to top-fuel dragsters and, perhaps eventually, a bona fide NASCAR event.

Backed by the chamber of commerce and other local boosters, the $250-million project is slated for a Merced County Board of Supervisors vote this evening. Foes like Machado fear they're about to be run down.

"This is the place I want to get old on," Machado, 41, said of his cattle ranch with its antique red barn and cozy farmhouse. "Now there's going to be a stoplight right at the corner of my place, and some days 50,000 people will be coming through here."

The battle over Riverside Motorsports Park has driven this agrarian county in the heart of the Central Valley.

The track promises to bring jobs, tax dollars and entertainment to a region of flat spaces, seasonal unemployment troubles and nothing much to do on a Friday night. But some locals contend a high-octane attraction devoted to the NASCAR Nation is the wrong way to grow. More at LA Times

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