Commissioners consider Fraser music festival permit
The Grand County Board of Commissioners has continued a hearing on a temporary use permit for a country music festival near Fraser.
Sean O’Connell, vice president of operations for Live Nation Entertainment’s Rocky Mountain region, told the board at its Nov. 24 meeting that his organization hoped to secure a permit for the Touch the Sun music festival as soon as possible.
The festival is tentatively scheduled for June 24, 25 and 26, 2016.
Live Nation hopes to host the concert at the Colorado Adventure Park on County Road 72.
O’Connell speculated that the event could attract at least 12,000 guests, though Live Nation would like to see attendance around 14,000.
“Everything about the site at the Colorado Adventure Park and within Grand County excited us about being able to come here and to make this an annual event that we can grow,” O’Connell said. “It can really be a signature event for Live Nation and the area and for Colorado.”
County staff recommended approval of the permit with more than 40 conditions.
Community Development Director Bill Gray enumerated staff recommendations for permit conditions including establishing buffer zones along nearby property boundaries and turning off campground lighting by midnight.
“I guess the best way to view this event is it’s a new town,” Gray said. “It arrives, it’s lived in for three days, but it takes two weeks to be set up and taken down.”
Gray also recommended that the camping areas having quiet hours and that Live Nation provide the county with plans for traffic, parking, waste management and public safety.
Live Nation officials said there were around ten conditions that they wanted to negotiate with county staff.
But some residents said they didn’t think the area could support such a large influx of visitors.
Dennis Saffell, who owns a ranch adjacent to the property, questioned how festival organizers would keep guests from trespassing on his ranch.
Saffell also noted that an irrigation ditch on his property would likely inundate parts of the festival area.
Curtailing irrigation would have a financial impact on Saffell’s ranch, he said.
“I hope we can figure this out,” Saffell said. “I hope this works. I think it would be great for this community.”
Judi Servoss, who lives near the proposed event area, said she was concerned about how the festival would affect the quality of life for residents.
“I understand that the community needs money, but I also understand the needs of the residents,” Servoss said. “This is a different kind of community. It’s a quiet community that thrives on leisurely activities.”
Servoss also questioned how the festival would affect next year’s Blues From the Top festival, which is scheduled for the same weekend.
Resident Jay Clough said the festival’s organizers should look elsewhere.
“An event like this at the ski area might be appropriate,” Clough said. “An event like this in Fraser is incomprehensible. It is insanity.”
Clough cited heavy weekend traffic as evidence that Fraser is already pushing the limits in terms of the number of visitors it can support.
“Weekends we’re already in gridlock,” Clough said. “We are over the top all the time.”
Winter Park-Fraser Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Catherine Ross said she believed the event would be a boon to the local economy.
“I think the entire county will benefit from this event,” Ross said.
The Town of Fraser submitted a letter to the board supporting certain conditions for the issuance of a permit for the festival including that the festival provide traffic control, a pedestrian route and dust control along CR 72, an adequate water supply and wastewater disposal, among other things.
Officials: festival is manageable
Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin said that, though law enforcement isn’t involved in the permitting process, he felt the festival was manageable from a public safety standpoint.
“If you choose to move forward with this we will have a staffing plan in place that will keep our people safe as well as the concert goers safe,” Schroetlin said.
East Grand Fire Chief Todd Holzwarth said he also believed the risk from the festival was manageable.
“I do believe we can certainly maintain fire safety and that’s our concern,” Holzwarth said.
Commissioners scheduled the next hearing for Monday, Nov. 30 at 11:15 a.m.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.
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