What’s Happening with the

Proposed Motorsports Park in Oak Ridge?

(Conceptual Rendering of Proposed Motorsports Park)

Updated 2/23/2021

Timeline of events:

2/10/2020: Oak Ridge City Council Meeting

  • Resolution presented to council expressing support and interest in the further development of the Horizon Center on lots 5, 6, and 7, containing approximately 327 acres, for a test track and research facility
  • Council approved amended version of resolution.
  • Resources: Meeting agenda; minutes; resolution as passed; video of meeting (discussion begins 2:05:00)

5/18/20: Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce hosts video presentation

8/11/20: Industrial Development Board (IDB) hosts Special Called Meeting

  • Industrial Development Board (IDB) heard presentation from developer H.E. Bittle, III on the overview of the Motorsports Park Project and its offer to purchase property.
  • Public was given the opportunity to make comment on the proposal.
  • IDB approved selling its share of the Horizon Center land to H.E. Bittle, III
  • Resources: Meeting agenda; minutes; resolution as passed; video of meeting

8/27/20: Oak Ridge Planning Commission Work Session

9/22/20: Oak Ridge City Council Work Session

  • Council discussed the process for moving forward on the development of the proposed Motorsports Park
    • The City of Oak Ridge does not own the land, has never owned it. It was transferred from the DOE to the IDB with several owners in between, so City Council cannot do anything until it comes back to City Council regarding rezoning
    • Note: The IDB derives its power from state statute. The City has no statutory control over the IDB other than to appoint its members
    • Watch the discussion here (42 minutes in)
    • Resource: Agenda

10/15/20: Oak Ridge Planning Commission Work Session

  • Oak Ridge Planning Commission held a work session on Oct. 15 to discuss creating a new zoning district for a motorsports park; no official decision could be made at the work session

10/21/20: Environmental Assessment Comment Period Closes
  • United States Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a study stating the racetrack will have no significant impact to natural land; DOE accepted comments through 10/21/20. It was initially Sept. 21 but the DOE extended it another 30 days
  • Resource: ED-1 EA Addendum DOE/EA-1113-A2 Environmental Assessment Addendum (132 pages): https://doeic.science.energy.gov/uploads/A.0100.037.2683.pdf
12/10/20: Planning Commission Meeting
2/18/21: Planning Commission Votes on Proposed Zoning
  • Beginning at their regular business meeting on February 18th, the Oak Ridge Planning Commission will be able to include pre-registered citizen speakers during the virtual meeting. This new access could offset the high volume of written comments that have been received to date. At the business meeting, the Commission will vote on a recommendation to City Council regarding a Zoning Ordinance text amendment to create a ‘Special Recreation District’. Although this proposed zoning district was prompted by the potential motorsports park proposal, it is a broader special district intended to accommodate large, unique developments, with requirements aimed at controlling how a development might impact surrounding property. 
  • If established, this zone could be applied with respect to the motorsports proposal, and the development would be regulated by its requirements if approved. Creation of the zoning district does not provide any approval of the motorsports proposal.  
  • See a draft of the new district here.
  • On 2/18/21, the Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of the SRD to City Council. Commission amended the draft ordinance, adding the BORCE (Black Oak Ridge Conservation Easement) to the greenbelt areas that would be protected by a wider border setback. 
  • Resources: 2/18 Planning Commission Meeting
Where are we now?
  •  The zoning text amendment will be forwarded to City Council for their consideration on two readings. If the new zoning district is established, the motorsports project developer would then be able to apply for rezoning of the property to this new district. That rezoning consideration would have one reading by the Planning Commission and two readings by City Council in order to be approved or denied.
  • The developer is currently studying the prospects and has up to 180 days, and two 90-day options, to perform due diligence as to whether they want to go forward with purchasing the property
What’s next?
  • If Mr. Bittle proceeds with the development of the motorsports park, the following steps are required:
    • Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment to establish regulation for a motorsports park use. A text amendment requires a recommendation from the Planning Commission, a public hearing and approval from City Council.
    • Rezone property to establish the district and allowable uses. A rezoning requires a recommendation from the Planning Commission, a public hearing and approval from City Council.
    • Approve a Site Plan for site development. A site plan must be approved by the Planning Commission.
    • Resources: Development process flow chart