Reporting John Lauritsen
ST. MICHAEL (WCCO) — A dirt bike track in St. Michael is creating noise with some neighbors.
Judd Billings built it years ago as an outlet for kids to have fun- for free. However, lately, some people living near his property have gone to the city to complain. Now, Billings is trying to keep his track intact.
“I think it’s important when kids are growing up to learn other things rather than Nintendo. And they need to get out and experience things,” said Billings.
When it comes to providing a place where kids can have fun, Billings says he is full throttle. Years ago, he built a hockey rink on his St. Michael property, which he turns into a batting cage in the summer.
His three kids, along with the neighborhood kids, can use it for free.
He didn’t stop there. He also has a dirt bike track on his property.
About 8 years ago, Billings designed the dirt bike course in his backyard. His 9-year-old daughter, Kari, has practically grown up on it.
“It feels great. I love having this track because you get to whip around it, you know, and show off a little,” said Kari.
Brian Friede is one of the neighbors who enjoy the track being there.
“It’s kind of like a neighborhood park and it’s just for the kids. So, it’s a great place for them to hang out and stay out of trouble I think,” said Friede.
Not everyone feels that way, however. Recently, some of Billings’ neighbors approached the city council about his dirt bike course. In a letter, they described the course as a noise pollutant which has the effect of being, “annoying, distracting, painful, and physically harmful.”
One neighbor, who didn’t want to go on camera, said she cannot have a conversation with her husband outside while the track is being used.
So, they asked the city to put the brakes on Billings track. The city council voted 7-0 to shut down Judd’s track. In the end, they say the city ordinance does not allow for this type of activity in a residential neighborhood.
“Extreme disappointment,” said Billings. “I wish I would have represented the kids better.”
Billings says since the ruling, parents have approached him telling him they are saddened by the news, and for the kids who will no longer be able to ride.
“No bike paths, no playground. not a lot for the kids to do out here, and they just took something more away from the kids. I guess they won,” said Billings.