Commissioners approve Fraser festival permit
December 1, 2015
The Grand County Board of Commissioners has conditionally approved a temporary use permit for a country music festival near Fraser next summer.
County Community Development Director Bill Gray brought the board a list of revised permit conditions during its second hearing on the festival on Monday, Nov. 30.
Among the conditions, county staff recommended that festival concerts end at 11:30 p.m. and secondary events go no later than 1 a.m.
All campsites would also have quiet hours starting at 2 a.m.
"These are conditions we are trying to put in place that would encourage people to respect your neighbors more than anything else," Gray said.
The Touch the Sun Festival is scheduled for June 24, 25 and 26.
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Representatives of Live Nation Entertainment, the festival's organizer and promoter, said they hoped to attract up to 15,000 guests.
Gray and county staff had been working with Live Nation since the board of commissioners meeting last week to hammer out the details of the permit conditions.
On Monday, Sean O'Connell, vice president of operations for Live Nation's Rocky Mountain region, said Live Nation wouldn't have a problem complying with the permit conditions.
The new conditions also address campfires, which arose as a point of contention during last weeks hearing.
Staff recommended that Live Nation work with the East Grand Fire Protection District to develop guidelines for approved fire rings and grills.
O'Connell said Live Nation's hired security would patrol camping areas to enforce those guidelines.
As part of the list of staff conditions, commissioners put a cap of 15,000 on the number of ticketed guests who can attend the festival.
That figure is in line with what Live Nation has seen with similar festivals in their first year, but the site could support as many as 20,000 guests, O'Connell said.
The site's capacity would be the limiting factor in future festivals, he said.
Grand County Emergency Medical Services Chief Ray Jennings said that, including festival support personnel, public safety officials would plan for a total influx of around 20,000 people to Fraser.
County staff required that Live Nation provide the county with regular updates on the projected number of attendees, Gray said.
Other conditions of the permit require buffers around ponds and wetlands in the immediate vicinity of the festival as well as buffers against adjacent properties.
Live Nation is also required to hire a traffic control company to provide daily service during the festival.
Live Nation must meet all permit conditions for the festival to proceed.
residents wary of festival, planning
Despite 58 total conditions from staff, Fraser resident Jay Clough said he didn't think the number of guests would be manageable.
"It sounds like it's going to be absolute chaos and bedlam," Clough said. "We are already at overload."
Clough also chastised county staff for not notifying all nearby residents of the permit hearing.
Clough told the board that an attorney with Union Pacific Railroad, which didn't receive notice of the hearing, had asked the board to table the permit until UPRR attorneys could review the event.
The county's temporary use permit process doesn't require notification of nearby residents.
UPRR, which operates railroad tracks near festival buffers, doesn't have any jurisdiction over the permit, said County Attorney Alan Hassler.
County resident Lauralee Kourse said that though she supported the festival, it seemed like the permit conditions and festival planning lacked sufficient detail.
"I'm not hearing the detail that in my opinion is going to be required to make sure people are going to have a good experience," Kourse said.
But Gray contended that the permit conditions were adequate and backed county staff's recommendation of approval.
"Yes, there's a little faith we have to put in the applicant here because there are conditions that they'll have to meet," Gray said.
Gray added that the event was important for Grand County from an economic development standpoint.
"I think this is a worthy event for Grand County overall in terms of how we appear to not only the Front Range of Colorado but to people outside this state and how we compete with our other neighboring resort communities," Gray said. "I think it's a very important component in economic development. I think it's a risk we should take."
Commissioners Merrit Linke and Kris Manguso voted in favor of the permit. Commissioner Jane Tollett, who was sworn in on Monday morning, Nov. 30, was excluded from voting because she was not present for the first half of the hearing, though she expressed support for the festival.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.