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Racetrack plan stirs controversy

By Sherri Ellington ************* UPDATE: Since the following story appeared in print, Brutz English appeared at a meeting of the concerned citizens of northeast Lamar County and said he plans to open his track this weekend, charge admission and plans to have BYOB alcohol on site, according to zoning administrator Dan Gunter who said such action would constitute a violation. Those remarks resulted in multiple complaints communicated to The Herald Gazette. ************* The Lamar County planning commission is advertising a May 6 hearing on allowing agritourism and agritainment as special exceptions with restrictions in agricultural-residential zones. After this hearing, which will be held at 8:30 a.m., the county commission will take up the issue along with the planning commission’s recommendations. Commissioners could hold their public hearing in May or as late as June. They will have the final say on approval of the zoning code revision. The change is related to Arthur ‘Brutz’ English’s plans to open his 100-yearold family farm to visitors where they can pay to see race horses being trained on a track he is building there. The track is reportedly half complete. According to his discussions last month with the board of tax assessors, he also plans to sell pecans and honey in a setup much like that at The Rock Ranch in Upson County. He would also raise other livestock. Eventually, he might expand into rodeo. The issue there was whether agritourism use would violate his Conservation Use Valuation Act exemption, causing a breach in the contract and resultant repayment of taxes and penalties. English asked to cut out 38 of 530 acres of the family farm. Both plats had applications to renew CUVA contracts. They were approved with the understanding the farm would be limited to agricultural uses only. Last week the tax assessors board, at English’s request, unanimously removed his CUVA for 2013. ’He’s going to cut out five acres and reapply for the rest next year,’ said chief appraiser Jeannie Haddock. He also has applied for agritourism business licenses and to join an agritourism association.

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