Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 21, 2013

City to consider festival limits

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — So much for a little peace and quiet.

Traverse City officials nixed resident Lou Colombo’s proposal to reserve the Open Space for his would-be 11-weekend Quiet Space 2014, a festival about nothing.

Colombo hoped to block festival promoters’ growing use of public parkland during the summer. City Manager Jered Ottenwess told Colombo a festival that no one attends technically isn’t a festival, so he denied his requests.

Ottenwess told Colombo he understands his concerns, and they’re shared by city commissioners. He encouraged Colombo to attend Monday’s city commission meeting at 7 p.m. in the Governmental Center, at which time further festival restrictions will be considered.

“It’s kind of a weak reason, I thought, but so be it,” Colombo said. “At least we’ll have a discussion on Monday. I’ll be there.”

City commissioners hope Colombo isn’t alone. They’ve encouraged residents to attend and let their thoughts be known about frequency of festivals, noise levels, and what the city should charge promoters who use the Open Space.

Mayor Michael Estes cited lack of citizen participation for a “watered-down” permitting structure the commission approved in 2012. Estes said those meetings were dominated by festival promoters and their supporters, not residents or neighbors who are increasingly clamoring for someone to address their festival fatigue.

“It’s great to receive emails from people, but if you have to weigh emails against public comment I think it’s natural to lean towards public comment,” Estes said. “They don’t have to give us a five-minute soliloquy, just come in and say ‘yes, you need to quiet it down’ or ‘yes, you need to charge more.’”

The greatest number of noise complaints came after the Christian-themed Bayside Festival over Labor Day weekend. Commissioner Jim Carruthers said the noise was a “perceived problem,” because testing showed noise landed within the city’s acceptable limits.

“But at the same time, it’s starting to bug people,” Carruthers said. “The amount of noise and the frequency of the noise coming out every other weekend is starting to drive people nuts.”