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February 24, 2018

County eyes permit after concert 'mess'

By David Showers
This article was published February 13, 2018 at 4:00 a.m.

The breadth of public services mustered to contend with the fallout from an outdoor concert near Mountain Pine over the weekend has the county considering imposing a permit requirement for similar events in the future, Garland County Judge Rick Davis said Monday.

The county noise ordinance prohibiting the playing of music that disturbs the peace and quiet of residents after 10 p.m. in the unincorporated area of the county is insufficient for addressing issues that arose at Coles Off Road Park off Mountain Pine Road, Davis said.

The park hosted an event Saturday night that ended abruptly when headliner Upchurch the Redneck refused to perform, posting on social media that he bowed out after many of his fans were turned away by concert staff despite purchasing tickets to the event.

Davis said he had to approve overtime pay for Garland County sheriff's deputies who were dispatched to the park for crowd and traffic control.

"It was an unorganized mess that got out of hand," Davis said. "They evidently sold more tickets than they had room for at the park. People were frustrated and irritated and tore up the grounds. They destroyed about 12 acres of property and tracked mud onto the state highway.

"It's been something we've been dealing with since Saturday morning. It's my understanding there were 2- to 3,000 people out there. We had to call in more law enforcement and spend county taxpayer money to keep everyone safe."

Davis said Environmental Services Department inspectors were also called in to document damage and write citations for violating the county's stormwater ordinance. Park operator and concert organizer Steve Sloan received several stormwater citations after the park hosted a large concert in April, when the county said mud tracked onto Mountain Pine Road from vehicles leaving the park got into Lake Hamilton's watershed.

Residents who live near the venue raised concerns ahead of Saturday's event, telling justices of the peace on the Garland County Quorum Court Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee that loud, vulgar and threatening music was played into the wee hours during the concert in April.

Sloan told The Sentinel-Record in January he regretted some of the language used at last year's show and had measures in place to ensure it would not happen again.

Davis said the county needs more than a noise ordinance to deal with an event as large as last weekend's. JPs are expected to consider establishing a permitting process for similar events in the future, he said.

"This kind of stuff doesn't need to happen," he said. "All we have is a noise ordinance to deal with this. This kind of vulgarity and drunkenness is out of control. Something has to change for these special event type situations."

The stormwater citations from last year's show were withdrawn after Sloan brought the property into compliance. Sloan said last month that off-roading is no longer allowed at the park, which he leases from the residents of the property.

Davis called Monday for state regulators to get involved, explaining that the area disturbed over the weekend exceeds the county's regulatory authority. The county can permit activity affecting up to 5 acres, but disturbing a larger tract requires Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality approval.

The Environmental Services Department said it issued Sloan several permits to move dirt at the park, with each one below the 5-acre threshold that would require the state to approve a large-site permit.

Sloan could not be reached for comment Monday but a post on the park's Facebook page apologized for the poor management of the event and said information about ticket refunds would soon be available.

Local on 02/13/2018
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