Saturday, March 15, 2008

What did the Expo board know ... and when did they know it?

As the controversy surrounding Expoland's unexpected and sudden rejection of a motocross park in Fishersville continues, the whispers are becoming louder from people in the community asking why Expo's board waited until everything had been decided to vote "no." Rumors are circulating that the board had no intention of following through with the track.

Augusta County spent tax dollars on personnel to study noise levels, process applications, and all the red tape that is involved in anything that involves the government.

The applicants, Terry and Doug Argenbright, spent time and money responding to Expoland and following up on whatever they were asked to do.

The Expo board appeared to be working with the Argenbrights to make the motocross track a reality, even going so far as to ask them three weeks ago to prepare a lease.

However, after the Argenbrights gathered supporters for public hearings, built an exhibition track to prove noise levels were within the accepted levels, and then being approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Expo board held a secret meeting and rejected it all. Calling the Argenbrights to their office this week, the board handed them a press release and refused to answer any questions.

Communication ended at that point. Of course there would be questions ... but the Argenbrights were refused any further explanations other than the written press release.

Members of the community who had paid little attention to the motocross situation before that time suddenly became interested because of the way it was handled. Something did not seem right. Questions are being asked from the community. Could a back-room deal have killed this recreational opportunity for Augusta County? How could a duplex subdivision with only 32 households sway the Expo board? What more is at play?

Stay tuned....

See related stories and photos here and here.


Anonymous said...

sorry, but as said before, this group had no contract or written guarantee that this would be approved and no one made them spend anything here. They are still free to organize in some other part of the county. They can even buy land and cut the middle man out and deal directly with the county. Nothing to see here......

Lynn R. Mitchell said...

What you say may be true. However, when working with Expo there must have been a "green light" attitude from the board for these private citizens to continue to strive for this venture.

1) It went before the zoning board.
2) It was tabled for three months.
3) Expo asked that an exhibition track be installed to test sound noise.
4) Expo asked for concessions such as berms, watering the track to keep down dust, etc. all of which, from my understanding, the Argenbrights agreed to.
5) Expo asked the Argenbrights to draw up a lease with their lawyer to be hammered out with the board.
6) Zoning Planning Appeals board approved the track.

There seemed to be "good faith" understanding between the two sides.

What would you suggest they have had in writing?

Anonymous said...

Just another nail in Expo's coffin.
I can remember when the fair was nice place to go and there was things to do and worth seeing. The gravel lot was jam packed with rides for adults and kids. Concerts throughout the summer etc.
Now the fair is just a joke, a crappy midway, concerts with bands that barely have name recognition etc.
Rockingham County, Rockbridge County and other county's have woken up and they know how to put on a fair and they have the crowds to prove it.
Expo has became just another county money pit.

Anonymous said...

Because Expoland has an elected group of board members it makes this deal even worse. Everything that happens the board has to vote in favor to allow things to happen. This means the board voted in favor for the following, letter of permission or intent to proceed with zoning, both the testing days, lease to be drawn up before final BZA meeting, construction of 1 mile long track just to mention the obvious. In my opinion this case is exactly like the Waynesboro Country club case. The board members as well as the establishment is liable. last I heard WCC suit is over 5mil that the board members are liable for? I would make this wrong a right if I was Expoland.

Anonymous said...

Just another view...Expo board repeatedly asked the Argenbrights's for a financial statement & they never received one. Expo would be entering into a financial deal with them & the Argenbright's could not prove they were financially able to hold up their end of the deal. Sounds like a smart business move to me.

Anonymous said...

Here's my thought on this whole fiasco. Scary thing is, it probably hits the nail on the head. I might even bet my next months Social Security Check.

Expo’s Board didnt want the park in the first place (Hence, Expo Board President is Thompson’s good buddy). However they knew there would be a lot of public support for this park. But they didn’t want to be the bad guys if they made the decision against putting the park in when the Argenbrights first approached them on this in the beginning.

So, since Thompson’s other good buddy the Chairman of the BZA said hey I could get 3 votes against the special use permit. No problem Expo Board, the BZA will be the bad guys and take the heat for denying the special use permit and You, Expo can still look like the good guys in all of this. So Expo’s Board just strung the Argenbrights along on this thing (Hence no formal agreements of any kind, just take our word for it). They wanted to tell the Argenbrights we are just as shocked, as you are that the BZA would turn this down.

Well of course that all backfired when the BZA voted 3-2 in favor of the special use permit. So now (under pressure from Thompson) Expo had to show their true stance and turn the Argenbrights down.

This whole fiasco could have been averted if the Expo Board had just grown a pair and told the Argenbrights NO. But they tried to play BACK ROOM politics and got burned.

Lynn R. Mitchell said...

Anonymous 8:19, you may want to be careful throwing those accusations around. My information says the Argenbrights covered the financial end of this with the Expo board.

Anonymous said...

Anonomous 8:19 PM you said, "Expo would be entering into a financial deal with them & the Argenbright's could not prove they were financially able to hold up their end of the deal. Sounds like a smart business move to me."

If Argenbright did fail at their business venture, Expo would have lost nothing. Low risk on Expo's part. Smart Business by Expo, I don't think so. The motor park was a win-win for everybody, including Expo.