Pigeon Forge go-kart track OK’d, but it can’t be too loud

Apr. 26, 2013 @ 11:57 PM

The city’s Regional Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals this week approved two items related to the proposed Xtreme Racing Center, 3144 Parkway, on the condition that certain staff recommendations be met.

The planning commission approved a site plan for the racing amusement, but the decision was contingent upon approval of a related item on the Board of Zoning Appeals agenda. The board meets immediately after the planning commission, with the same members.

The board item concerned sound and lighting requirements that the developers would need to meet under the C-6 (Mixed-Use Commercial) district.

Because there is an adjoining residential zone connected to the amusement, sound levels must remain below 55 decibels before 10 p.m. and below 50 decibels after 10 p.m.

“That’s one of our concerns,” Community Development Director David Taylor said.

A letter from the manufacturer of the go-kart exhaust pipes that are being proposed for use at the amusement stated that the “ultra-silent” exhaust pipes would meet the sound requirements.

Taylor, however, wondered whether the combination of many go-karts running on the track at the same time would meet the requirement.

“What I would request is that someone certify ... that however many go-karts go on at the same time meet the criteria,” Taylor said.

Perry Smith of Perry Smith Development, the developer of the amusement, said only 20 go-karts would run at a time. He noted that it wouldn’t be possible to know whether the 20 go-karts would meet the requirement until they could build the track to test it.

Smith did try to make a case for the quietness of the go-karts and the muffler, which he said was the quietest muffler on the market.

“They have a body around them, and they’re insulated, so right off the bat they’re substantially quieter than any go-kart in Pigeon Forge. I have a location in Branson (Mo.) that has them,” Smith said. “... With the addition of the silent muffler on them, we feel very comfortable even though we are running that many karts.”

Smith also said much of the noise level from go-karts comes from the metal clanking together, rather than the sound of the engine. His go-karts, however, don’t have any metal.

Smith went on to say that he would be willing to have someone certify that the go-karts meet the sound level requirement if it means moving forward with the project.

“I’d be more than willing to do what I need to do to get this off the ground,” Smith said.

Taylor said the information suggests the requirements will be met, so he recommended approving the amusement if the developer would test the sound levels after construction.

“But if we get everything up and running and then the requirement’s not met, we’re going to have to revisit this,” Taylor said.

A small lighting issue was also addressed. Taylor said very minor adjustments would need to be made to some of the exterior lighting, and Smith agreed to make the adjustments.

rhargett@themountainpress.com