Highland Park Resort was conceived, built, and opened by founder Paul Wright. Paul has been involved in the motorcycle industry for decades, and has for many years had a dream to create a family oriented outdoor recreational resort that gives motorcyclists a clean and safe place to enjoy their sport and bring their kids. It was not easy, as you can read in the date by date account below.
June 10, 2005 Construction Underway for New Off-road Vehicle Park
Marietta Motorsports president and 1888FASTLAP.com founder Paul Wright has announced plans for a new off-road vehicle riding park in the Northwest Georgia mountains, and riders can get their first taste of the new facility in August. The park is designed for both motorcycles and ATV's.
The 1,000-acre Highland Park Resort is located near Cedartown, Georgia , providing easy access for riders with about a 1 hour drive from Atlanta and about 1.5 hours from Birmingham.
Construction has already begun on Highland Park Resort, and the first part of the construction will include miles of trails for a day of awesome riding in the mountains. Also in the works are a learning area for new riders, certified MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) training, a motocross practice track, a PeeWee track and eventually over 100 miles of great trails.
The park will be open on weekends beginning in August, and the grand opening is slated for October 1, 2005. Plans call for the park to be open Friday afternoon through Sunday, growing into a seven day per week operation as the resort construction is completed.
The trail system will feature safe, one-way riding through the mountains, coded for degree of difficulty, and the purchase of more land is already being considered for expansion.
Primitive camping will be available initially, and as the construction continues there will be RV sites and cabins for guests. A store, service department and a lodge will complete the resort, providing riders with a perfect getaway in the mountains.
"We felt that there was a need for a quality riding resort in this area," stated Wright. "Highland Park will have something for everyone, from new riders and kids to experienced off-road racers. The terrain is challenging, fun, and as perfect as it gets for off-road riding."
Oct 1, 2005
HIGHLAND PARK GRAND OPENING!
Oct 3, 2005
We are temporaily closed due to a restraining order issued by the Georgia Superior Court. More info to follow...
Oct 14, 2005
We go before the Polk County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Oct 18, to ask that our Special Land Use Permit once again be approved as it was previously. The original permit was deemed void by the Superior Court due to some small and unintentional clerical oversights by the county, even thought the county told the court that as far as they were concerned, the permit was valid, and the corrections would be made right away. Once we have our permit again, we have to wait until Nov 15th to get final authority to re-open the Park. Stay tuned...
Oct 19, 2005
The Board of Commisioners voted to once again grant our Special Land Use Permit! Certainly a victory for the 'Good Guys', and one step closer to re-opening the Park in November! We have a hearing on November 15 for final authorization to re-open Highland Park.
Nov 16, 2005
WHERE WE STAND AS OF NOVEMBER 16, 2005:
I appreciate all the emails and phone calls from everyone. Your concern for Highland Park is very much appreciated. We are doing everything we can to open again as quickly as possible, and we will keep you updated as to our progress.
We went to court today, Nov 15. The events leading up to our court appearance today and what will happen next is going to be summarized, or this post would be a very long read. The first part is a brief explaination of zoning manuals, which is important so you will understand what is happening with Highland Park and why we had to go to court.
Zoning ordinance manuals typically outline the types of zoning in a county (business, agricultural, industrial, residential, etc), then define what is allowed in each zoning type, and also give examples of "conditional uses" that might be allowed in each type of zoning with a permit issued by the county. The manual gives examples of these uses since it cannot list every possible business or use within each type of zoning, because 1) the manual would be incredibly large, consisting of many volumes, and 2) there are new types of businesses and uses today that were not around yesterday, and there will be more tomorrow and next week and next year. The world is not a static place where nothing ever changes. The experts that draft those manuals understand that, so they address that with a "catch-all" section of the manual.
The catch-all section is written into zoning ordinance manuals to allow a county to consider special land uses within a particular zoning district that are not listed as one of the few examples given in the maual. The catch-all section describes a Special Land Use Permit (SLUP). A SLUP allows the county to consider and approve or disapprove conditional land uses within a zoning district that are not mentioned as one of the examples given in the manual. For reference, the current zoning for the land occupied by Highland Park lists only ten examples of conditional uses for that type zoning, but the examples include things like dog racing tracks, marinas, and recreational vehicle parks.
Motorcycle and ATV parks are not specifically mentioned as a land use in the Polk County zoning ordinance manual. No surprise there. So when I went to Polk County with my plan for Highland Park, they considered it and decided it was a good thing for the county, and voted to issue a SLUP for the Park to operate. Exactly as the zoning ordinace manual intended - a special use needs a special use permit.
Unfortunately there were some slight and unintentional procedural errors that occurred when the county issued that SLUP, and a couple that opposes Highland Park hired an attorney that filed a lawsuit claiming the county's procedural errors left our SLUP null and void. They went to a judge, and the judge agreed the county had procedural errors sufficient enough for the court to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that shut us down until we went to court over the matter.
Now that the county was aware of the unintentional procedural errors, they went about the task of correcting them, which they did, and a second SLUP came to a vote at the next Board of Commissioners meeting. The opposition came to that Board of Commissioners meeting and they argued that correcting the procedural errors was not enough, because the zoning manual does not specifically say "motorcycle and ATV park", and it was their position that the manual has to have specific wording to allow any use, and a SLUP was not possible without specific wording for that use in the manual. The Commissioners disagreed with the opposition's interpetation of the zoning manual, and voted to issue the SLUP for Highland Park.
So we had a new SLUP, however we had not yet been to court yet about the TRO, so we still could not operate the Park. We had to wait until Nov 15 to appear in court. In the meantime, in order to eliminate the opposition's argument, we filed an amendment to the Polk County zoning manual to include specific wording about motorcycle and ATV parks.
In court, the opposition again argued that the zoning manual does not specifically say "motorcycle and ATV parks", and therefore the county was without authority to issue a SLUP for Highland Park. We argued that a Special Land Use Permit is exactly what is supposed to be issued for land uses not specifically mentioned in the zoning manual. That is why the zoning manual contains the section on SLUP's and empowers the Commissioners to consider and allow or deny uses not specifically mentioned, since there is no possible way for the zoning manual to mention every conceivable land use, now or for the future. The county manager and the county attorney were at the hearing. The county attorney, who helped draft the zoning manual, explained to the court that the opposition's interpetation of the zoning manual was incorrect.
The judge was also informed that we had filed an amendment to the zoning manual to include specific wording about motorcycle and ATV parks, and based on the previous voting history, it was very likely the county would approve the amendment. The judge considered all the facts, and decided to wait a few weeks to decide the case, presumably to allow the county the time it needs to vote on the amendment. If the amendment is approved, then the opposition's argument becomes moot and that will resolve the case once and for all.
I hope and believe that if the county votes favorably to allow the amendment, the judge will lift the TRO, and Highland Park will be open again. The amendment has already been filed, and on Nov 17 it will come before the Polk County Planning and Zoning Commission for a vote. If the amendment receives a favorable vote, it will then go to the Board of Commissioners for a final vote on Dec 6. With a favorable vote by the Board of Commissioners, we hope to be open shortly thereafter with full authority from the court.
I will post an update on Nov 17 after the Planning and Zoning Commissioners meeting. Stay tuned!
Nov 17, 2005 9:08pm
Just back in from the Polk County Planning and Zoning Board meeting where my proposed amendment to the zoning manual to allow motorcycle and ATV parks as a conditional use was on the agenda. It was a tough night, partly because I do not have much experience at this and I should have had people there to speak on behalf of Highland Park. The opposition was there with everyone they could muster to speak against Highland Park.
My deepest thanks to the people from GeorgiaOffRoad.com that took the time to send in a FAX to Polk County on behalf of the Park. Those faxes got attached to the list of people speaking for Highland Park, and that was definitely a help.
The Commissioners listened carefully to the people that spoke against, and they listened carefully to me as well. When it came time to vote, the Commissioners took a long time to consider and discuss the issue, and finally voted in favor of the zoning amendment. Thank you Polk County!
We are one step closer to being open again. The final vote rests with the Polk County Board of Commissioners on December 6th, and then the Superior Court must decide to continue or lift the temporary restraining order.
Stay tuned for more information on the upcoming Board of Commissioners meeting.
Nov 21, 2005
IMPORTANT INFO ABOUT GETTING HIGHLAND PARK RE-OPENED! PLEASE READ AND HELP SUPPORT YOUR NEW RIDING AREA!
Dec 7, 2005
The Board of Commissioners voted in our favor once again last night! We had a huge turnout of supporters at the meeting. The room couldn't even hold all of us, and a number of people had to stand out in the hallway during the meeting. We would like to extend a huge thank you to all of you who came out to show your support, and of course thanks to those of you who spoke up for the park! We can't forget those of you who wrote letters, either! This was our final hearing in front of the Board of Commissioners, and we would also like to thank them for the support and confidence that they showed in the park and all of you who will be riding there. Stay tuned for an announcement of our official reopening date!
Dec 18, 2005
We have a decision from the Superior Court, and although the war is not over, victory is within sight. Thank you so much for all the support, all the letters and emails, and the committment of so many people that showed up in person for the last Commissioners meeting. Your hard work and support has won the battle and now we can win the war.
We wanted the Court to lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) immediately after the Commissioners approval of the new amendment to the Polk County zoning manual. That did not happen -we did not get exactly what we wanted - but we did get what we needed. The judge decided that with the new amendment, the Park would be allowed to open, but only after obtaining another (our third) Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) that would be issued under the new amendment that was just approved. That means that once we apply for a new SLUP under the new amendment in the zoning manual, and the SLUP is approved by the Polk County Board of Commissioners, the TRO will be lifted and we can once again operate Highland Park. It also means no precedent was set that might affect other off-road riding areas in Georgia, now or in the future.
The timeframe is about one month. We have to apply for a new SLUP, it has to be posted at the Highland Park property for a period of time, an advertisement must be run in the local paper for a period of time, and then we go before the Board of Commissioners one final time to ask for approval of the SLUP.
The Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday,Jan 26, (PLEASE NOTE THIS MEETING HAS BEEN CHANGED - THE DEC 28 NEWS POST HAS THE LATEST INFORMATION - PLEASE READ!) and it is critical we once again have a show of support at that meeting. We crushed the opposition at the last meeting, but the Court's decision has opened the door for the opposition to rally and come back for one final try. We have to crush them again, and I have to ask for your support again. No emails and letters are needed, since the Commissioners got our written message loud and clear last time. I hate to ask this again, but what we need is people at the meeting. Lots of people. Bring anyone you know that rides. The Court's decision has opened the door, but we still have to jump through it - one last time. Thanks again for your continued support. I'll post more later.
Jan 19, 2006
Planning & Zoning Commissioners vote favorably for our Special Land Use Permit! Some stipulations were added, but we will be working on those prior to the Feb 1 Board of Commisioners meeting. Thanks to all that showed up to support us - it really helps!
Feb 1, 2006
Board of Commissioners vote favorably to approve our Special Land Use Permit as the Plannig and Zoning Board recommended!
Feb 3, 2006
WE WON !!
THE SUPERIOR COURT HAS LIFTED OUR RESTRAINING ORDER and we will be open this weekend! Thank you, thank you, thank you to all that came out to support us and wrote letters or emailed the Commissioners! Let's ride!