By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – The final aspect of the lawsuit between the Kosciusko County Fair Board and nearby residents who live along Winona Lake has been resolved, ending a two-year dispute and cementing a ban on motorized racing at the fairgrounds.
A final unresolved aspect of the suit – a nuisance clause that could have clamped down more on noise emanating from the fairgrounds – was allowed to move forward.
The Fair Board had begun to resurrect racing in recent years, sparking a suit from property owners who claimed the move was in violation of the 1990 agreement.
Fair Board members had argued that the revival of racing was a key component to keeping the fairgrounds financially viable.
However, the board and property owners reached an agreement recently under which the fair board paid legal fees for the appeal and the plaintiffs agreed to drop the nuisance charge, according to a person close to the plaintiffs who asked not to be identified.
The group of property owners issued a statement this week supporting the agreement and the court ruling.
The court decision reaffirms an agreement reached in 1990 to ban motorized racing.
In a statement issued this week, the residents said they are pleased that the court had “recognized the importance of a long-standing agreement between Winona Lake homeowners and the Kosciusko County Community fair board.”
The agreement helps preserve the peace and serenity for not only Winona Lake homeowners but everyone in the community who would be impacted by the excessive noise and pollution, the plaintiffs said.
“As a result, the community has flourished with improvements and investments in the beauty, safety and access,” the statement said.
While supporters of racing have argued that racing had existed before many homes were ever constructed in the area, the plaintiffs pointed out in their statement that a great majority of current Winona Lake property owners either purchased or built homes knowing the 1990 agreement was in place.
“This is important for all Indiana homeowners who may find themselves with the potential of declining property values when another party ignores a Restrictive Covenant,” the statement said.
The plaintiffs also encouraged the board to view them as neighbors and allow them to be members of the fair association, which has rejected some of them in recent years.
“Allowing lake homeowners into the fair association would not only bring a neighborly perspective but would also give the fair board and 4-H access to hundreds of new supporters,” the plaintiffs said.
Representatives of the Fair Board rarely comment on the suit outside of board meetings. The fair office is closed and representatives of the board could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Below is the full statement from the plaintiffs.