Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

April 25, 2014

Editorial: Events ordinances can protect neighborhoods

As some Leelanau and Grand Traverse County residents have discovered, it pays to prepare for unexpected visitors, even when you don’t live in a typical tourist hotspot. It’s a lesson other area townships need to learn, as Acme Township officials can attest.

A few years ago the owners of some large barns in Leelanau and parts of Grand Traverse counties began renting their buildings for wedding receptions and other large events. The barns provided just the rustic setting young couples and event planners wanted.

The problem — still being faced in some area townships — is that the entrepreneurial spirit had outstripped local ordinances or, in some cases, common sense. Neighbors were caught off guard by loud, late music, traffic on normally empty rural roads and, in a couple cases at least, the need for portable toilets had been underestimated.

Just recently Acme Township officials were caught short by a proposal from the wildly successful Horse Shows by the Bay.to hold a concert featuring singer and actor Lyle Lovett at Flintfields Horse Park.

Flintfields owner Karin Flint wanted to expand events at her farm on Bates Road north of M-72; and in March had presented a permit request for a list of events that ranged from ice hockey and lacrosse matches to weddings. Her request to host concerts caught planners short.

Planners are now scrambling to come up with an ordinance to deal with concerts and other events; it could be months, however —long after the Lovett concert is scheduled — for a new ordinance to be ready.

Planners in Peninsula Township are hoping to get ahead of the rush and are considering an events ordinance that would require people planning an outdoor, public event of 250 people or more to get approval and a permit from the township board.

The ordinance would not affect existing wineries, which operate under their own zoning rules that take precedence over the proposed ordinance.

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