Country Music Festival Hits Roadblock at Planning and Zoning - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Country Music Festival Hits Roadblock at Planning and Zoning


GEORGETOWN, Del. - Plans for a country music festival in Harbeson have hit a roadblock after the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously against it.  

Dewey Beach businessman Alex Pires filed for an application for land use for the festival on behalf of Cool Spring LLC/Highway One in April.  On July 11, he made his pitch to the commission in front of hundreds of people. 

At that meeting, dozens voiced their opinion both for and against the festival. 

Many neighbors were in fierce opposition to the plan, mentioning concerns over noise, traffic, pollution, and potential crime. Bob Wheatley, the chairman for the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission, said the decision to deny the application came down to land-use questions. 

"The applicant didn't really address the land-use items that we needed to hear about," he said. "Most of their presentation had to do with business plan. And it was all good information, but it wasn't the information we needed."

Pires said he would take the festival to Harrington, if he was denied in Sussex County. He said he chose Sussex County because he's a local to the area. 

"We're going to spend about $5 or $6 million," he said after the July meeting. "We think the benefit to the community is probably in the $10 to $15 million range. Every gas station, every restaurant, every hotel, every motel." 

But neighbors like Mike Falkenstein said the traffic and noise concerns were simply too large to overcome. 

"These people are coming down for a week-long tailgate party in the woods," he said. "This is not going to stop at midnight. And with thousands of people in there, how are you going to control it?" 

Wheatley said Planning and Zoning had some of the same concerns. 

"There wasn't a site plan that was presented," he said. "That would show where the emergency routes are, where the folks would be located, where the parking was. They made some general references to that. But it just didn't rise to the standard that we needed to approve it." 

The Planning and Zoning Commission just offers suggestions to the Sussex County Council. The actual vote will be made by council on August 12 at the County Administration Building on the circle in Georgetown. 

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