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Halifax County supes nix ATV trail park, drawing curses from some in the audience

South Boston News
Deputies trail audience members as they file out the door at the supervisors meeting. / June 10, 2021
Nearly 100 people turned out for the Halifax County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday night to show their support for a proposed ATV off-road riding park in Liberty, but board members denied the permit request, following county planners who voted against the project last month.

The board did not include a second public hearing on Liberty ATV Trails, after supervisors and county planners held a joint May 18 public hearing on the project. It was at that meeting the Planning Commission voted 5-3 to recommend the project be denied.

The vote Monday night by the Board of Supervisors was 5-1, with ED-5 supervisor Dean Throckmorton casting the lone vote in support. Stanley Brandon and Ronnie Duffey, ED-6 and ED-4, both abstained.

The denial of the permit set off a mass exodus of supporters of the ATV park, with some of them audibly cursing members of the board for their votes. Sheriff deputies followed members of the crowd out the door, their ranks expanded to at least a half-dozen officers. Typically there are two deputies at board meetings, More than that were in attendance for the meeting, along with Sheriff Fred Clark.

Pannell banged the chairman’s gavel and demanded order.

“You will be quiet, you will be quiet,” repeated Pannell to disappointed ATV park supporters on their way out of the public meeting room.

The points that board members made for and against the project largely rehashed the debate by planners at the May 18 joint meeting, with a majority of supervisors expressing their opposition was based on the site location, not against the idea of an ATV park.

Thomas “Andy” Hughes, who is seeking to open an ATV park on 140 acres of land he hopes to acquire on Chisolm Trail in the Liberty area, was asked by Pannell if he had any new information to present to supervisors for their consideration.

“I have no new information,” said Hughes.

Supervisors discussed their thoughts on the park, with Throckmorton advising fellow members that Hughes intends to purchase the property and could still invite friends to ride ATVs on the land.

“We need to be careful you don’t get what you don’t want. If we approve the permit we can put conditions to revisit the permit agreements in the next year or so,” said Throckmorton, adding this was part of the process for Virginia International Raceway.

ED-1 supervisor Ricky Short, in whose district Liberty ATV Trails would exist, said the issue has been an agonizing one for him.

“Every day I thought I had made up my mind and then I’d change it again. I visited another ATV park and saw a lot of enjoyment with families. I did see alcohol and that will be hard to control,” said Short. “The traffic leaving the park will have to pull almost onto Liberty Road off of Chisolm Trail to see any oncoming traffic due to a line of trees. I don’t think this is the proper place.”

The main opposition has come from members of the family of Bessie Carr, whose farm adjoins the site where the ATV park would be built. Carr family members say the road leading into the park is too narrow for safe use, and add the park would create a major noise problem for their homeplace.

Petitions have circulated on both sides. Short said a petition in support had 320 names with nine of the supporters living a mile and a half from Chisolm Trail. An opposing petition had 74 signatures — 35 people living in the area, and nine living on Chisolm Trail.

Stanley Brandon said he had reservations based on the fact Hughes does not currently own the land where he wants the park. “Halifax is a dying community, the number one priority of the county should be the preservation of our future and our youth need to be considered. As adults, we should see a better quality of life for the future,” said Brandon. But, “It’s a deal breaker that Hughes does not own the property — but it’s a grand idea.”

Short made a motion to deny the permit based on secondary road conditions, opposing signatures from people living on the road, and the noise levels involved. It was seconded by William Bryant Claiborne, ED-8.

“This is not about denying youth, this is something we need, but it’s not the right place,” said Claiborne.

“Sometime, somewhere we are going to have to start approving these things. We ain’t setting the world on fire in the county ourselves,” retorted Throckmorton.

In other matters of business, supervisors gave a go-ahead for Halifax CSG LLC to install a 3.13 megawatt, solar facility on Philpott Road near Fulp Industrial Road with the exception that trees on the land must be chipped or hauled away, they cannot be burned. This exception was proposed by Short who expressed there was a lot of smoke complaints from the solar farm built in Nathalie.

» The board approved the request to abandon a portion of Carl Henderson Trail. Nearby landowners Calvin and Jane Clardy submitted the request.

» Supervisors accepted USDA grant funds of $128,700 to purchase a front loader refuse truck.

» The board accepted USDA grant funds of $138,986 to expand the Agricultural Marketing Center with corral pens.

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This county bows down to one race. Had Hughes been a different race it would have passed. Anything Sinai area wants they get and we know it’s a no whites wanted there. So how is that fair?


Good you are exactly right! This gets you no where. An a statue for a lady that didn't even know she had the cells. The honor goes to the doc that discovered it.


And for all of Hughes supporters that heap praise on the deputies. They don't give a damn about you. They will follow orders. It is time for the people that work a pay taxes to elect people that will do what the majority want! We can do this.


Halifax still can't get out of it's own way and allow something prosperous. Like it was pointed out in the article and at the meeting, Hughes can still purchase the property and invite as many people as he wants to ride and then the Carr's will not have any say in what happens or the noise level.

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