TRAVERSE CITY — Lyle Lovett concert posters decorate bulletin boards throughout Traverse City, but that may be as close as the country music artist and actor gets to town, if promoters can’t swing a zoning permit.
Lovett and His Large Band are scheduled to appear Aug. 8 at Flintfields Horse Park in Acme Township, home of the popular and successful Horse Shows by the Bay. Township planners knew Flintfields owner Karin Flint wanted to expand events at her farm on Bates Road north of M-72, but said they were blindsided to learn a major concert had been booked.
And booked without a permit.
“It put the planning commission in a really bad spot,” said Marcie Timmins, an Acme Township planning commissioner. “We don’t want to be the ogre that stops the concert, but it was the first time we were hearing about it. We were shocked.”
Flint submitted a permit request in March to host a broad list of events on a regular basis that ranged from ice hockey and lacrosse matches to weddings. But one word gave township planners pause: concerts.
Many of the items on the list are already allowed, but concerts are an event and the township doesn’t have an event ordinance, Timmins said.
Planning commissioners entered a meeting room full of concert supporters on April 14, and faced a request to rewrite the township’s ordinance in time to allow the summer concert.
The township’s planning consultant, John Iacoangeli, told planning commissioners in a memo it would take at minimum four to five months to draft and approve an ordinance to allow concerts. Iacoangeli recommended commissioners carefully consider the ramifications of an ordinance change on other requests for uses in agricultural districts.
“We are not worried about opening up this site to a concert, we are worried about opening up our agriculture districts to all sorts of different things,” Timmins said.