For some, an outdoor go-kart track on Hilton Head Island is horribly tacky. For others, it’s a sign that the island can adapt and be more welcoming to children — both those who live here and those who visit.
At Tuesday’s Hilton Head Island Town Council meeting, 15 people wanted to talk about the go-kart track, although it had already been approved by the town’s board of zoning appeals on July 15.
Those who spoke Tuesday asked the council to reverse the zoning board’s decision, citing noise concerns and a general erosion of the island’s character.
After discussing the issue and getting legal advice in closed session, the council chose not to take any action on the go-kart track, letting the board’s decision stand. Property owner Roger Freedman now can apply to the town’s design review board and start constructing the track.
The go-kart track will be installed off Marshland Road at the Broad Creek Marina property. The track will be between 750 and 800 feet long, according to Freedman’s application to the town, and will have between 15 and 20 electric go-karts.
Electric go-karts are traditionally quieter than gas-powered go-karts, according to racing industry sites and Freedman.
Noise concerns from ‘enjoyable screeching’
Those who oppose the track — many of whom live in or near Indigo Run — have long worried about the noise that the go-kart track would bring to the area.
Judi Shade, who lives in the gated community, said although the electric go-karts are designed to be quieter than traditional, gas-powered carts, the noise from the track will still hurt quality of life nearby.
“These may be noise-neutral activities, but the people who are on those activities are not noise neutral,” she said. “Just park your car and listen to the enjoyable screeching coming from those on the zipline.”
The future home of the track, Aerial Adventure Park, already includes a zipline and high ropes course.
Don Lucas, president of the Indigo Run board of directors, said the island’s consecutive awards in national magazines were based on the island’s natural attractions.
“No one ever made the statement ‘I don’t want to go to Hilton Head because they don’t have a go-kart track,” he told the council.
How was it approved?
The zoning board approved the track unanimously July 15.
Hilton Head’s land management ordinance previously allowed indoor go-kart tracks, but did not specify whether outdoor tracks were allowed. The property’s legal counsel argued that means the LMO does not specifically prohibit outdoor tracks.
Board member Charles Walczak agreed. “I feel that there’s enough ambiguity to permit the use,” he said at the meeting. “It’s probably the best site that we could find for something like this on an island. (It’s) not going to take the image of our island in a different direction.”
‘I didn’t move to Myrtle Beach’
The image of the island is exactly what some see as threatened by the go-kart track.
Janice Turkish, who lives in Indigo Run, said she doesn’t support the project.
“Where’s it going to end?” she asked. “It’s going to turn into a waterpark down there. To me that’s not what Hilton Head is about.”
On Tuesday, she told the council, “I didn’t move to Myrtle Beach for a reason. That’s why I moved here.”
Turkish said she feels that the LMO was unfairly changed to accommodate the outdoor track.
But others came to support the project on Tuesday.
Mary Navis, who said she has five grandchildren living on Hilton Head, said the track will be a good place to have birthday parties.
“The options for birthday parties were mini-golf or driving to Savannah for Chuck E. Cheese,” Navis said. “I cannot think of anything that would be more enjoyable for everyone than an electric go kart track. There’s no place on this island where they could have had more fun.”