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Float-Rite venue prepping for summer concerts

The proposed layout for the concert and camping areas is shown above.

Somerset may be getting some new concerts this summer.

The planning commission for the Village of Somerset spent most of its Thursday, March 3, meeting discussing the proposed plans for the Float-Rite concert venue.

Matt Mithun, new owner of the concert site, attended the meeting as well as the proceeding pubic hearing regarding the conditional use permit application.

His proposals include adding additional camping sites and parking lots, as well as creating a new festival area to the west of the the existing amphitheater.

"Right now we have 2,000 campsites; about 25-by-30 for general camping sites and VIP camping is about 300 square feet sites," said Mithun.

He said he is also planning on constructing three bathroom facilities to increase the number of public toilets to 100. This will eliminate the line of port-a-pottys one resident commented were an eyesore.

The plans, including two multi-use buildings, will total six new permanent structures.

Within the conditional use permit, Mithun estimated 40,000 people for eight dates, 20,000 for 12 dates and 10,000 for five dates. He admitted that they probably wouldn't reach the 40,000 mark for a couple of years, but he wanted to have the option.

One resident who was concerned about the increased traffic was Mark Vanassee, owner of the property east of the proposed access gravel road south of the amphitheater.

He told the commission that he has had problems with people parking off the road bordering his property in previous years. Many of his units have seniors living there.

"In the past when we had something like 40,000 people attending in the 1990s, they were parked all along my property line and we had trash in the trees," said Vanassee. "I service the elderly and we don't want to see parking by my property."

Bill Lawson, another nearby property owner, asked if Mithun was going to take precautions against people being in the woods.

Mithun replied that the camping is located on the west side of the property and only day parking will be allowed on the west, so he didn't believe there would be a problem with people roaming around the eastern wooded area near the residential homes.

He also responded that he had been in talks with leasing 40 acres north of the property for parking should attendance numbers warrant.

Village ordinance stipulates that parking should have at least a 10-foot buffer zone between lot and residential buildings.

After rejecting building a tall fence and prohibiting parking altogether, the parties involved agreed on constructing a berm -- a mound of earth that creates a wall -- to cut down on the noise and discourage people from trespassing on Vanassee's property.

The commission went through each section of the conditional use permit and asked Mithun to clarify a few elements, such as installing permanent lighting at various stations, and supplying an alternate parking plan for smaller concerts. Mithun agreed to work with the village, police and fire departments to get the concert season underway.

He said that this summer he is working on bringing two concerts to Somerset, but plans are not final yet. For future years he hopes to sponsor themed festivals such as a renaissance fair or county fair that will run several weekends in a row.

Mithun maintained that stretching out events over one month will help smooth out the traffic flow and population increase.

"In my eyes, it's a win-win situation," he said.

The commission approved the conditional use permit with the few clarifications. They will present their recommendation for approval to the Village Board at its Tuesday, March 15, meeting. The public is welcome to attend.