ST. MARYS — Officials in the city of St. Marys are weighing complaints from adjacent property owners and other city residents, along with potential safety concerns, against property-owner rights in the case of a makeshift go-cart racing course that borders a busy city thoroughfare.
A letter written by the city to the owner of the property seems to suggest that Mayor Patrick McGowan and the St. Marys City Council will use whatever means are necessary, included thinly-veiled threats and subtle intimidation, to shut down the course.
Celina resident Aaron Myers constructed the track in the front yard of a residence along state Route 703, on the west edge of St. Marys, that is owned by his girlfriend, Vanessa Chorvas.
But city leaders, apparently unhappy with the track, authorized a letter sent late last week to Chorvas addressing some of those concerns.
The letter, written on City of St. Marys letterhead and signed by City Law Director Kraig Noble, claims the go-cart operation “may be bordering on a violation of zoning law” for the property and recommending that Chorvas “cease and desist from operating this track.”
The letter ends with the notation that it “may be that city council will enact additional legislation regarding this situation.”
Noble, when contacted on Wednesday, admitted the city is unaware of any existing city ordinances that specifically prohibit the type of go-cart track that he said prompted “several people” to call city administrators with complaints.
The law director, who conceded the property in question is zoned for commercial use, nonetheless defended the city’s position.
“The city asked that I express their concerns,” Noble said. “We are concerned about the aesthetics as well as the potential liability for him (Myers). The purpose of the letter was that he should probably check with his insurance agent” to discuss the liability issues associated with the go-cart track.
Noble does not believe the city was overstepping its legal authority by sending the letter.
“This is an unusual situation. We just wanted to give this guy a heads-up that there are some concerns,” the law director said. “It’s possible that city council might consider legislation governing ancillary use when it comes to zoning laws and also might consider legislation requiring proof of liability insurance” for operations such as the go-cart site.
In his letter to Chorvas, Noble wrote, “I would advise that if anyone is hurt while operating such a vehicle on your property or it a vehicle spins out of control onto Celina Road, you may be held personally liable with a likelihood of having a large judgment rendered against you. You, of course, are free to consult independent legal counsel to advise you on the liabilities associated with allowing such an operation on your property.”
Myers told a Dayton television station that the go-cart track is “just an informal thing” and that he plans to continue its operation, over the objections of the city.