Board to concert venue: OK to proceed
The Somerset Village Board has given the go-ahead to the Somerset Amphitheater concert site.
At the March 15 board meeting, they approved the conditional use permit for the event camping and parking and the interim conditional use permit for events and parking.
"This is a brand new permit," began Jeff Johnson, village president. "The previous interim conditional use permit was used as a template."
The previous permit had drawn criticism from the Somerset Fire & Rescue Department when it was left out of the planning stages after Chief Travis Belisle had campaigned for inclusion.
When the previous owner filed bankruptcy, the village and the fire department were not paid for their services.
The village ultimately reimbursed the fire department after a lengthy negotiation process.
The details of the current permit had been hashed out during the planning commission meeting on March 3. A public hearing had proceeded the meeting so that residents' comments could be taken into consideration.
Mark Vanasse, a resident who owns property adjacent to the southeastern side of the amphitheater, voiced his objections at the earlier public hearing and again during the public comments section at the village board meeting.
He was concerned that the residents on his property would be harassed by event-goers who park on the road just outside his property line. He had stated that when people had parked there before, they left trash on his property and shouted at his residents.
During the public hearing on March 3, it was agreed that a physical barrier -- such as a berm -- be constructed in a 10-foot setback from Vanasse's property line. The 10-foot setback is in keeping with village ordinances.
Vanasse told the village board through his attorney that he disagreed with condition No. 9 of the interim conditional use permit. The section states: "The public safety committee, the Somerset Village Board and the Somerset Amphitheater LLC will review the ICUP annually and make changes mutually agreed upon between the public safety committee, village board and Somerset Amphitheater LLC to protect the health, welfare and safety of the public."
Vanasse's attorney, Craig Pederson of Pederson Law offices, had questioned the village via email about the fairness of allowing the new concert venue owners the ability to regulate themselves.
He argued that the provision allowed the concert venue to veto any change suggested by the village or the committee that may have been initiated by residents.
The letter closed by saying that legal action would be taken if the permit is approved without modifications in that section.
"If we were dealing with the previous concert owners, we would have pulled No. 9," Johnson said.
Johnson acknowledged that Vanasse had had problems in the past with concertgoers. When Vanasse asked for a 20-foot setback to further the distance, Johnson disagreed.
"I think that is prohibitive," he said. "A 10-foot setback is sufficient if there is a visual barrier."
The board approved the interim conditional use permit for the concert venue/event parking. The board also approved a separate conditional use permit for event camping and parking.
In other news:
The public works committee recommended purchasing a Census 5502 meter reader, as the current meter reader broke down last week. The board approved.
The board approved having a special meeting to review and approve the contracts for four non-union village employees to keep them from being discriminated against. The chief of police bargaining contract was extended to Dec. 31, 2012.
Cedar Corp. suggested the Village of Somerset send a letter to state legislators in support of a potential "distressed TID" provision that would be beneficial to the community.
The board debated the township's proposed agreement for 180th Street improvements. The town is planning on improving the road, but wants some reimbursement should the village decide to annex the property. After one motion failed, the board decided to table the issue to allow the village attorney to look over the language and report back next month.
Bob Crotty, public works director, announced his plans to retire on April 29, 2011. The board wished him well.
The Village of Somerset board meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Village Hall. The public is welcome to attend.