ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly has unanimously approved the creation of a buffer zone around a drag strip in Butte.
The Assembly gave the go ahead Tuesday for the 185-acre buffer around the Alaska Raceway Park. The approved deal is a compromise between area residents and owners of the drag strip.
Assemblyman Jim Colver called the action a watershed moment, noting the lack of opposition on what many consider a touchy subject: a racetrack located in a residential area.
Noise from the track has been a sore spot for some residents, but none testified against it Tuesday. However, five people -- including three residents who live within earshot of the track -- spoke in favor of the deal.
Borough and state officials also worked on the compromise deal, which designates 185 acres of undeveloped borough land west of the Alaska Raceway Park as a nonmotorized public recreation area. That will created a permanent buffer that will muffle racetrack noise from nearby homes.
Under the deal, officials also agreed to sell 25 acres of borough land to track owner Earl Lackey that can be used as a parking lot.
The borough also will vacate a right of way on which the track encroaches. That should help Lackey in his effort to buy the 155 acres of state-owned land the racetrack sits on. The state has agreed to sell him the land, but first wanted the right of way removed.
''I'm really just tickled to death,'' Lackey told the Anchorage Daily News after the decision.
Lackey said he will continue to work on reducing noise from the track. Lackey has already put in a one-watt FM radio station so he doesn't have to use loudspeakers to communicate with drivers in the pits.
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