Neighbors demand screeching halt to dragway noise; Racing strip to remain open

Heather Crawford reports. 9/6/2016

The Green Cove Dragway wouldn’t be much without burning rubber and shrieking tailpipes. But it’s those very sounds that have put this 3-year-old track in neighbors’ cross hairs.

Tuesday night, a meeting of the Green Cove Springs City Council focused on the future of a track that some locals would like to drive out of town. 

Peter Swanson, who bought a house on the St. Johns River in 2013, is leading the charge. Soon after he moved in, the Dragway made its seasonal switch to nighttime races. Swanson complained, saying the track violated the town’s noise ordinance. Police verified the track exceeded local decibel limits.

But in March 2015, the City Council voted to exempt the track from noise restrictions, since it was technically a “temporary event,” according to its permit.

Swanson calls that decision “sleight of hand.”

“We are not opposed to the track,” says Swanson. “We are opposed to noise that exceeds longstanding pollution standards for ‘quiet enjoyment’ of our properties.”

Dragway owner Pete Scalzo defends his businesses. He calls Swanson a “pain in the butt,” and notes that he already lined the property with cargo containers to dampen the noise.

“I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but I hope I can control my 71-year-old temper,” Scalzo told First Coast News. “I never thought I’d have to defend myself for being successful.”

The council meeting began at 5 and the Green Cove Springs City Council voted to allow the Green Cove Dragway to continue to operate until the end of their special permit, as long as they become compliant with city codes.

“We are going to do whatever it takes to make sure we can keep the Green Cove Dragway Racing family together,” says Scalzo.

In 2015, the council voted to exempt the track from noise restrictions, since it was technically a temporary event. In addition to becoming compliant, Scalzo offered to not host drag races on Friday night and cut back on Saturday hours.

“We want to be good neighbors.”


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