The owners of Latrobe Speedway are working with Unity Township officials to alleviate noise issues after numerous resident complaints following Saturday night’s races.
Richard Stoner, who lives along Anna Goodman Road, said the races lasted until nearly 2 a.m. Sunday.
“It was enough that a half-mile away, we could not sleep. Even with the windows closed, the noise was coming through,” he said at Thursday's supervisors meeting, adding that the venue’s loud stock car races were the primary issue.
Solicitor Gary Falatovich said the raceway owners met with township officials this week to discuss the matter. He was told that races went later than usual — Saturday races typically conclude at about 11:30 p.m., Falatovich said — because of a “variety of factors,” including several accidents at the site.
An estimated 1,600 spectators attended Saturday’s races, which were part of the venue’s Fan Appreciation Night.
Falatovich said both the township and venue owner are aware of complaints associated with the raceway’s PA system, and added that plans are in place to lower the volume of the speakers. The track owner believes issues related to dust coming from the site will be alleviated with the recent installation of a new water truck, Falatovich said.
Latrobe Speedway, formerly known as Schmucker’s Speedway, is a family-owned and operated racing venue that runs Stadium Style Arena Cross with bike and quad racing on selected Friday nights. This year, the venue welcomed back stock car racing on selected Saturday evenings.
Latrobe Speedway is operated by SNB Promotions LLC, which is owned by Dennis Bates and his wife Kathy, according to its website. The raceway owners couldn’t be reached by presstime.
Falatovich said the township received multiple complaints about the races, including several phone messages left in the early morning hours Sunday.
Resident Stu Thompson lives on Bell Memorial Church Road, nearly two miles northeast of Latrobe Speedway, and said a night with prevailing winds can make it sound like “they’re racing in our front yard.”
“I can’t imagine what these people have to go through living half a mile away,” he added. “This is just not a local problem — (we’re) two miles away and it is just deafening. We’re talking about a lot of people (affected), a couple hundred people at least. This is very serious business. You’ve got a lot of hard-working people in this township and they deserve a good night’s sleep.”
Falatovich said the races cannot start earlier because people can’t get to the venue on time, but suggested the owners could possibly limit the number of races to appease residents.
Stoner said a 11:30 p.m. finish for races is still too late and suggested that events conclude closer to 10 p.m. He also mentioned a noise ordinance, but Falatovich said such an ordinance must be township-wide and can’t be imposed on a specific area of the municipality.
Latrobe Speedway has four more stock car races and three more motorcross races remaining on its summer schedule.
“There’s not too much the township can do with them,” Falatovich said of the raceway. “They are a pre-existing non-conforming use. The township tried to shut down that use a number of years ago and (lost) in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. If this was a situation coming in front of us now for a conditional use approval, we could regulate their hours of operation, but under the circumstances that exist, we cannot.”
“We were at least satisfied that the owner and operator will take steps (to fix the problems),” he added. “I think it was a very productive meeting because they were willing to do this stuff voluntarily. They want to work with the township and the residents, and try to be the best neighbors they can be. They’re well aware of the complaints ... hopefully, the (issues will be corrected). We’ll see on Saturday.”
If the issues persist beyond this Saturday’s races, Falatovich said residents can call the township office at 724-539-2546.
Work continues on the township’s new public works garage, as engineer Dan Schmitt of Gibson-Thomas Engineering Co. Inc. said Thursday that contractors recently poured the final floor slab and the trusses will be installed starting next week, weather permitting.
Schmitt said there have been tentative discussions about an updated work schedule, with a meeting scheduled next week among the project contractors to finalize plans.
“It hasn’t been finalized yet, but we’re looking at early fall for total completion (of the building),” he said.
The project was briefly delayed following the collapse of 42 wooden roof trusses at the site this spring. Schmitt said last month the collapsed trusses have been removed from the site and new trusses are being ordered.
No one was hurt following the April 7-8 incident. Security cameras at the site, which were installed after a September 2017 arson fire destroyed the original building, captured footage of the collapsing 80-foot trusses the evening of April 7. The remaining trusses came down the next day.
Work on the township’s new public works building began in December. The building was expected to be finished sometime in the spring, thanks to a five-month, contractually agreed-upon timeline from Gibson-Thomas.
A reward of up to $10,000 remains available for information leading to a conviction in the arson that destroyed the public works building. The reward is being offered as part of the township’s insurance policy. Anyone with information about the arson is asked to contact state police at 724-832-3288.
Supervisors on Thursday approved a change order, a $2,028.13 credit from general contractor Walter Mucci Construction Co., after deciding upon a metal interior roof as opposed to a previously approved drywall material.
They also approved another change order, an increase of $8,891.38, for the installation of stairs in the interior of the building to access the mezzanine.
Also related to the building, the supervisors approved a pay estimate of $19,710 to R&B Mechanical for mechanical construction and tabled a pay estimate of $95,461.56 to Mucci.
During Thursday’s public comment period, resident Ron Marko expressed concerns about the condition of McChesney Road, saying road work is badly need. Another resident expressed similar concerns with Butz Road.
Marko said the road is in the “worst condition” in his 40-plus years living there and contains numerous pot holes.
Supervisors chairman John Mylant said tar and chip work is slated to begin on several township roads later this month. He added that both McChesney and Butz roads are scheduled to be paved this year.
- Supervisor Ed Poponick said cleanup work was done about 10 days ago by township workers and some local church volunteers at an unnamed Nine-Mile Run tributary in Whitney. Township officials said previously that the work would cover the total area of the stream, from a nearby bridge to past Whitney Field. Poponick said township officials didn’t hold a cleanup earlier because of muddy conditions. Municipalities are no longer permitted to dredge creeks and similar waterways, Falatovich said previously, and those that do are subject to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) fines.
- Mylant thanked residents Scotty Guzik, Sam Wolfe, Shay Wolfe, Jim Fontana, Austin Clark, Drew Dean, Aiden Dean, Bob Clark, Hunter Hudson, Sarah Spiel, Scott Guzik Sr. for their help in picking up garbage along eight township roads.
- Poponick said officials will know in September whether it will be awarded Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) grant funding for upgrades at the Charter Oak playground. Falatovich said last month the project carries a cost of just over $58,000, which includes a 15% match provided by the Charter Oak Community Association. The upgrades are slated to include stormwater management improvements and the construction of new playground equipment.
In other business, supervisors approved these items:
- To accept 0.2 miles of Grayhawk Court and 0.11 miles of Quail Run in the Villas of Grayhawk development as part of the township’s road system;
- Consent order agreement related to the Latrobe and Unity municipal authorities’ Act 537 plan;
- Act 537 revision to install sewer taps on the Ferlin and Repko properties, and a revision to the Bigo property;
- Revision to a sanitary sewer extension project along Donohoe Road;
- To subdivide a parcel into two parcels at the Dry Ridge Fire Department;
- Wimmer Corp. subdivision;
- Reapproval of Latrobe Municipal Authority’s equalization tank and pump station plan after the 90-day period had expired.