A more-than-yearlong dispute between the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds and neighboring homeowners over motorized racing came to an end Friday when the special judge sided with the homeowners.

Special Judge Stephen Bowers granted the plaintiffs' request for a permanent injunction to stop motorized racing at the fairgrounds and uphold a 1990 settlement agreement halting racing.

Plaintiffs sued the fairgrounds in May 2018 after they claimed motorized racing started back up and their attempt to send a cease-and-desist was unsuccessful.

The fair's stance on the issue is that they did indeed honor the 1990 agreement but once the original homeowners moved away from the lake, the agreement was void.

The homeowners argued even if it was true that the contract didn't run with the land but the homeowners or heirs involved in the 1990 suit, plaintiff Chris Cummins is an heir to the property his father, James Cummins, owned. James Cummins was a plaintiff in the 1989 lawsuit; Chris Cummins purchased the home from his father.

Special Judge Bowers was appointed to the case and after hearing arguments from both sides on July 30, took it under advisement.

In his judgment, Bowers writes, "The interpretation of the restrictive covenant and standing are legal issues for the court. Nothing submitted by either party remotely suggests that there are any material factual disputes that would support a different outcome. Consequently, the court will not indulge the fair's request to reconsider the previous rulings on the law. The fair's position does not even rise to the level of asking the court to reweigh the evidence, because the facts have not been in genuine dispute."

Bowers also quotes testimony from Chris Cummins,  Cummins testified that “the motorized racing would cause irreparable harm because it infringes on your time with your family to be able to go outdoors which is what most people do who live on a lake, be it have family over, a cookout, to spend quality time with your family and friends and being able to talk and not have the noise and the dust and the loud speakers echoing across the lake and into your ear and then, moreso, the investment that I worked hard in my life to buy that home on the lake."

This testimony is an example of why monetary damages would be inadequate to resolve this situation, the judge's order states, including that "every owner of real estate has the right to the peaceable enjoyment of his or her property. Each parcel of real estate is unique; perhaps particularly so when the property is on the water."

In judging the balance of harm between plaintiffs and the defendant, Bowers writes, "A permanent injunction is an equitable remedy. The character of the remedy is particularly important when weighing the potential harm to the parties. Although the homeowners may well suffer an economic loss when they sell their real estate if a permanent injunction is not granted, their immediate concerns are of a highly personal and non-economic nature. The fair claims it will suffer an economic loss. But that loss is only suffered if the fair is allowed to disregard the agreement that it made with the original homeowners in order to settle the early litigation. In other words, the alleged ‘harm’ to the fair lies in being forced to abide by an obligation to which it agreed."

Bowers also says the freedom of people to enter into contracts, and enforce those contracts, is of compelling public interest.

"Allowing the fair to ignore its contractual obligation would undercut the public interest. Granting a permanent injunction protects and promotes that interest. … Denying a permanent injunction, and thus allowing the fair to renege on its settlement agreement, would in the court's judgment seriously undermine the public interest."

Bowers signed the order Sept. 3. The judgment is an appealable order.

Catherine Breitweiser-Hurst, attorney for the fair, said Friday declined comment and would not say if the fair plans to appeal.