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Local editorials

A motocross park on land near Ruch could be its own worst enemy

Ruch property owner Jim Byrne thinks he has a good thing going on the 100-acre parcel he bills as Oregon's newest, largest, extreme motocross park. We think that depends on your point of view.

Specifically, it depends on whether you're riding a dirt bike or sitting on your deck listening to a dozen at full throttle.

Riding dirt bikes is hugely popular in Southern Oregon, and we're sure Byrne will have no shortage of riders happy to make use of his homemade course. More opportunity for motorized recreation isn't necessarily a bad thing, if safety rules are enforced, the environment protected and adequate parking and sanitation provided.

But the new course has already attracted strong opposition from neighbors annoyed by the racket from revving engines and concerned about the potential for traffic congestion.

That's perfectly understandable. Folks who move to a rural setting such as the Applegate Valley expect ' and should be prepared to tolerate ' a certain amount of the noises that come with country living.

— Farm equipment, traffic going by on the highway and the occasional buzz of a chainsaw are part of the landscape. But 100 acres of motocross tracks are something else again.

Byrne says he's not out to antagonize anyone. His neighbors do what they wish with their property, he says, so why can't he do the same with his, as long as it's not bothering anybody?

That's the problem. It is.

Byrne might have saved himself some trouble by approaching neighbors ahead of time, telling them about his plans and soliciting suggestions on ways to limit noise and disruption. He probably wouldn't have made supporters of all of them, but at least the motocross park wouldn't have come as a surprise.

Some would suggest that, if current laws don't prevent what Byrne is doing, new ones should be passed. We're not among those.

But Byrne needs to tread lightly. Often, new restrictions are enacted when someone is perceived to have stepped over the line between exercising his freedom and infringing on that of his neighbors.

This project could wind up being its own worst enemy.

Hard to figure

The most recent sting by the state Liquor Control Commission found three businesses that sold alcohol to minors ' but far more that refused.

The Tolo Tavern in Central Point, the Shady Cove Chevron and Redwood Select Market in Grants Pass sold alcohol to an underage volunteer working with OLCC inspectors. But seven of the 10 businesses solicited refused to sell to the volunteer.

That says to us that most retailers are following the law. What's hard to figure out is why these stings continue to yield violations.

Stores that sell alcohol ought to be aware that the young person standing at the counter with a six-pack could be a decoy. The OLCC makes no secret of its tactics.

Store employees who sell to underage customers face a citation and fines up to &

36;350. Businesses also face fines and liquor license suspensions.

But the the biggest deterrent ought to be the potential for tragedy: an underage customer who leaves a store, consumes the alcohol and then has a traffic accident.

Nobody wants to be blamed for the death of a young person ' or of someone else killed by the young person's car.