TAMWORTH — Selectmen last Thursday voted to ask Club Motorsports Inc. for its noise data for events starting in August after a number of residents complained that the track again is getting too loud.
CMI runs a 2.5-mile European-style racetrack on 251 acres off Route 25 in South Tamworth. According to CMI's website, "members and guests will have a wide range of experience driving cars on a closed course."
After more than a decade of court battles, the club opened last Sept. 1. In October, residents complained that the facility was too noisy, particularly during a motorcycle event, and urged the board to enforce its 69-decibel ordinance.
This year, residents were heartened that this year's motorcycle event in mid-June was nowhere near as loud as it was last year.
However, residents complained that track was extremely loud during the weekend of July 21 and or the weekend before. The town received seven or eight complaints, said chairman Steve Gray who said selectmen don't have any official way to measure the noise for lack of noise metering equipment.
CMI, under the noise ordinance, is supposed to monitor at the boundaries and turn that data over to the town. But CMI has been using another method. They do sound readings of individual cars and have not been sharing that data.
"I don't know about anybody else on the board, but I'm dancing in the dark here," said Gray. "I think that we should request or require from CMI that they monitor noise at their boundaries."
Selectmen who have unofficial noise meters, like Gray and Aaron Ricker, say that the readings they get have been below the limit or barely above it. Gray said one reading was 71 Db.
After a lengthy back and forth with residents, selectmen voted 5-0 to send CMI a letter telling the company to monitor noise at their boundaries during "Dodge press events" scheduled for Aug. 1, 2 and 6, and return the data to selectmen.
The penalty for noncompliance is $1,000 per violation.
Resident Peg Poirier said the fines are for exceeding the decibel limit.
Resident Dom Bergen, who lives 3.5 miles from CMI, seemed to have the greatest frustration with CMI of anyone in the room.
"Sunday and Monday, it was ridiculous," said Bergen. "All day long there was a drone ... I listened to a drone of traffic not from (Route) 25, not from (Route) 16, but from that facility all day long."
He said that the noise from the track is louder than a six-lane highway in New York. He also mocked selectmen for not having a device to measure the sound.
"We don't have the stuff to measure it, so we can't go up there," said Bergen. "We can only ask that they would please give us some noise stuff (data)."
Amy Berrier said the noise July 23-24 was "outrageous," and she could hear the noise in her house with the windows closed. She said it would be even worse if she had to work outside at a place like Tanna Farm in Tamworth.
"I would think it would make you want to go screaming into the hills," said Berrier. "It was that bad."
Berrier said if CMI events were as quiet as the motorcycle event was in June everyone would get along. She wondered why there was a difference.
But Ricker, who says he enjoys the sound of racing cars, said weather was the difference.
"The last four days we have been getting complaints, and it's all been on cloudy days," said Ricker, whose opinion had support from some in the audience.
Resident Rachel Johnson supported Ricker's cloud theory.
CMI President Jim Hoenscheid, reached by email Friday, had no comment.
Gray said noise monitoring is a rather complicated business and a company that could do it correctly would cost $150,000 per year.
Resident David Little said under the ordinance, CMI is obligated to collect data and provide it to the town.
"You are wasting your time doing anything except getting the facility operator to provide the data," said Little. "I would think they would want to show they are in compliance."
Selectman Dan Poirier said some residents won't believe CMI.
Some residents suggested they could also monitor the noise to check CMI's numbers.
Resident George Ricker said CMI is working on controlling noise and said the selectmen, particularly Willie Farnum, have been hard on CMI.
"You can't kick that dog and kick that dog and expect them to bend over and help you," said George Ricker, adding selectmen could be "a little nicer."
Farnum disputed George Ricker's assertion.
Selectmen, like Dan Poirier, asked the residents what would happen if all the sound data suggest that CMI is meeting its obligation but if it's still too loud.
"I would have to live with it," said Bergen. "If it's (under), tough noogies on me."