Find new place, new owner for track

Published 9:51 pm Thursday, September 25, 2008

Off-road riding enthusiasts deserve a place in rural Southampton County to enjoy their sport.

Tony Scodes, however, is the wrong guy to provide it.

Scodes, the owner of Mr. T’s dirt track near Ivor, has alienated too many people in recent years by thumbing his nose at those county officials whose jobs are to make and enforce the rules we live by as citizens.

Whether the county was unreasonable in its efforts to regulate Scodes’ operation — and whether the neighbors who oppose it are prudes — is beside the point. In a democratic, orderly society, citizens obey the laws as they exist, then work like heck to change the ones they don’t like.

There’s a prescription for bringing about such change, and Scodes should have followed it in trying to get his facility sanctioned. He could have used his considerable support from patrons to build citizen support for the project and ultimately persuade county officials to give it the required zoning designation. Instead, Scodes insisted on operating Mr. T’s for a period in defiance of the county’s laws.

Scodes’ more recent attempts to get county approval encountered too many deaf ears from those who remembered his earlier disrespect for authority.

County supervisors wisely put the Mr. T’s debate to rest this week by agreeing to settle a lawsuit by neighbors and track opponents who had objected to the board’s recent “spot zoning” of the property — a decision that would have allowed the track to operate under certain conditions.

The county’s planning commission refused to define those conditions, tossing the political hot potato back to supervisors.

It’s time to move on from this controversy. Riders should band together, identify an alternative site and willing property owner, and play by the rules in getting their track built and operational.