Board Amends Bodatious Permit

Published 3:58 pm Thursday, June 13, 2013

CUMBERLAND – One more Bodatious motorsport event is scheduled to occur this year and the Cumberland Board of Supervisors have given it a green light.

But not without first tightening up a few regulations.

Not only will off-duty police officers be serving as security, but all other security officers are now required to be certified by the Department of Criminal Justice Services, according to an amendment to the Bodatious Conditional Use Permit (CUP) approved by the board during their June 11 meeting.

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Three board members voted in favor of the amendments, with Chairman David Meinhard, District Four, voting against it and Supervisor Lloyd Banks, District Two, abstaining.

The two amendments were based on recommendations made by Interim Planning Director Rachel Falkenstein and were the outcome of concerns raised by the board during last month's meeting.

The first amendment requires that security officers successfully complete security guard training and be certified through the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. Previously, security officers for the event had to be certified by the local sheriff.

The number of security officers required remained the same as the original permit, one per every 100 attendees.

The security officers are in addition to off-duty deputies that are also hired by Old Dominion 4-Wheel Drive Club, which hosts the event, the permit states.

The original permit had required reduced speed limits be posted on Boston Hill Road. However, that is not allowed by the Virginia Department of Transportation until a traffic study is completed, Falkenstein reported to the board.

So, the second amendment requires “caution signs” be located by the club along Boston Hill Road “warning drivers of the event and encouraging caution for the duration of the main events.”

Falkenstein also presented the board with a compliance report on the second Bodatious event of the year, which was held the weekend of June 1.

She found the event to be in compliance with the originally approved CUP. There were 1,065 people in attendance, she stated, with 505 individuals camping.

She reported that one individual was detained for being drunk in public, but was released by the magistrate. Another was charged with underage possession of alcohol, Falkenstein reported. However, she said the individual was not a minor.

She stated that she had not received any public input regarding the last event.

The amendments to the CUP mark the third time the board has discussed Bodatious events this year. Following a recommendation by the Cumberland Planning Commission to approve the permit, the board voted to approve a one-year permit on a three-two vote during the board's April meeting.

The CUP amended by the board included 26 specific conditions the event must meet, which range from noise and lighting to security and alcohol consumption.

During their May meeting, the board received input on how the first event of the year went and discussed their impressions of the event. Security and unaccompanied minors were the chief concern of board members.

During that meeting, the board voted unanimously to hold a public hearing in June in order to amend the permit.

Public Hearing

During this month's public hearing, six individuals spoke. All four of those who spoke against the event lived on property near where the event is held in northern Cumberland.

Concerns regarding noise, traffic on Boston Hill Road and trespassing on personal property were raised.

“We have endured all of this and kept quiet through the years, but we've had enough. We've had enough,” said Boston Hill Road resident Edna Carnes, who said she lives across from the event.

Leo Henderson, also of Boston Hill Road, said, “the folks running the event have put forth effort and have been attempting to make things better, however, we still have a great deal of traffic.”

He concluded, “I hate to ruin somebody's party, but I think it's time for this party to move someplace else.”

Supporters of the event who spoke during the public hearing included Old Dominion 4-Wheel Drive Club member Mike Morris and Bruce Zirkle, operations captain for Cumberland Volunteer Rescue Squad.

Morris introduced himself as an officer of the club.

He pointed out ways the events benefit the community, including a previous $10,000 donation to help start the Cartersville Medical Center, as well as frequent donations to the police department, fire department and rescue squad. He also felt local stores also benefited from the event.

“The events over there have gotten a whole lot better. I've been there for a long time, almost 30 years and the crowd has changed, the people have changed and the control of the crowd has changed,” said Morris.

“We've tried to do the things that the people in the community wanted us to do for the events: water truck, water in the roads to keep the dust down, police. We've got more officers working now then we did before.”

“We're just trying to keep things going and keep people in the community as happy as we can with this event,” he concluded.

Zirkle spoke briefly on behalf of the Cumberland Volunteer Rescue Squad.

He stated that the concession sales from the event brought in $19,500 during an average year to the rescue squad. The club contributes another $2,000, he added.

“That's $21,000 that's generated from this event by this club to help finance the squad. Without this event, would the taxpayers be willing to pay it?” he asked in conclusion.

In addition, Falkenstein reported that four individuals contacted her via email, asking that the CUP not be revoked. Three were not citizens of Cumberland and the fourth did not share his address, she stated.

Board Discussion

A brief discussion by the board followed, regarding enforcement and oversight of the new security requirements and whether the security officers should be armed or unarmed.

“I'm comfortable with the sheriff making the determination,” said Supervisor Bill Osl, District One, while discussing whether security officers should be armed or unarmed.

Falkenstein confirmed that the sheriff could make that determination, but the security officers would be responsible for obtaining the required training through the Department of Criminal Justice Services. Proof of training would be provided to her office, she said.

“Well, I think the increased security and the training for the increased security are appropriate amendments and I understand the realignment of the traffic issue with VDOT's requirements, because neither we nor the club can set those,” said Osl, before moving to accept the recommended amendments.

During discussion preceding the vote, Banks voiced concerns regarding the security he had observed at a past event, wondering if it was effective.

“If there is some type of skirmish, wide-spread violence, I don't know what anybody would do other than run for the hills,” Banks concluded.

The final Bodatious event is currently scheduled for the weekend of September 14.