A 96-acre swath of land in eastern El Paso County used for motocross racing for more than a decade finally obtained legal status to continue to have dirt bikes roar around its maze of dusty track.
The popular motorcycle riding spot known as Ram Off Road received unanimous approval by the Board of County Commissioners at Tuesday's regular meeting to allow a variance of use in the area zoned rural residential.
The dirt track first opened in 2004 and was mostly used for recreational riding and an occasional organized race. In October 2014, officials noticed additional track being built on the property. They realized the owners were not operating legally and issued a notice of violation. Ray Mandel and Katram, LLC, the company that owns Ram Off Road, applied for the variance of use in August 2016.
The board followed up on the Planning Commission's recommendation to approve the variance. The commission added several conditions to the application. It concluded that the use is compatible with the area which has another nearby motocross track, two salvage yards, a landfill and the Dragonman's and Pikes Peak Gun Club shooting ranges all within a half-mile of the property.
The Corral Bluffs Open Space, which county Commissioner Stan VanderWerf called "one of the most important paleontology sites in the U.S.," is also located just to the north.
Nina Ruiz, with the county's Planning and Community Development Department, told the commissioners on Tuesday that two neighbors opposed the variance while five approved of it.
"This is just a great place to go and ride and have a good time with your kids," said David King, who spoke during the public comment segment of the hearing. "It's just fun."
King said he has been taking his kids to Ram Off Road for years, adding that when he is on the property he can barely hear the dirt bikes circling the Aztec Family Raceway on the adjacent land to the west.
In the end, the conditions included restricted hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and a mandate that the facility be open just 180 days until Mandel is able to build permanent restroom facilities. The management is also required to keep records showing that they will comply with that rule. Ram Off Road also must follow a dust mitigation plan that will include watering the dusty tracks. It must submit a development plan within 90 days that will include permanent buildings, trees along the roadway and repairs to an access fence.