Two Town Council members say they are still up in the air on whether to grant Schnepf Farms a permit to host 12 days of large concerts a year, with the final vote on the issue expected Wednesday.
The vote on whether to amend owner Mark Schnepf’s permit, granting 12 days to host concerts for between 5,000 and 15,000 people through 2013, was supposed to happen Dec. 3.
But the council decided to postpone the vote when it became clear Schnepf didn’t have the required six out of seven council members to approve the change that evening.
Councilwoman Joyce Hildebrandt said she was opposed to large concerts, while Mayor Art Sanders and Councilman Gordon Mortensen both said they wanted Schnepf to do more
work to alleviate neighbors’ concerns about noise, traffic, lights and concertgoers potentially wandering into their neighborhood.
Schnepf said he has changed parts of his proposal, including putting a fence on the western edge of his property near the neighborhood and running concerts until 11 p.m. for up to seven days and ending by 10 p.m. other nights.
He also will ensure that lights in a parking area near those homes are pointed away from the neighborhood and agreed to send out a notice to neighbors as soon as he books a concert to give them more warning.
Other concerns, including crowds on roads to the farm, dust and alcohol sales, are things that he either has no control over or are already heavily regulated by state laws, Schnepf said.
As for worries about the farm eventually becoming a major concert venue for a larger chunk of the year, Schnepf said there are just not enough concert organizers interested in a venue like his for that to be plausible.
Schnepf said he tried to attract more concerts in the nine years he hosted Country Thunder but didn’t land EdgeFest, the alternative rock concert that has been at Schnepf Farms for the past two years, until three years after Country Thunder left.
There are a limited number of large concerts that need outdoor venues with temporary stages and seating areas like the farm, Schnepf said.
“And they either are well-established in another venue or they don’t exist yet,” he said. “But (Schnepf Farms is) a great venue, and I hope that if we’re successful at getting the zoning, we’ll get other concerts coming in.”
He’s been working to put a Christian rock concert together and would like to organize a jazz festival if the permit is approved.
Whether those changes are enough to get council approval remains to be seen.
“Have I made up my mind? No, I haven’t,” Sanders said.
Sanders said he wants to protect the homeowners’ concerns, but also noted Schnepf has done a lot to address worries.
“I hope the Schnepfs will continue to be sensitive to the neighbors no matter what,” he said.
Mortensen said Thursday he hadn’t reviewed the full proposal yet but plans to meet with Schnepf on Monday or Tuesday.
“I’m hoping that we can come to an agreement and people will be reasonable,” he said.
Hildebrandt couldn’t be reached for comment on Thursday or Friday.
She indicated at the December meeting that she was against the permit, saying that while she liked events such as the Pumpkin and Chili Festival and Fourth of July activities, 12 large, loud concerts were too much.
“My grandchildren couldn’t go to bed,” she said at the December meeting. “It was too loud for them. I don’t like the large events.”