News Column

East Bay officials tune out live music event

May 29, 2014

By Matt Troutman, The Record-Eagle, Traverse City, Mich.



May 29--TRAVERSE CITY -- A fence is all that divides Drew and Alyssa Elliott's property from Timber Ridge Resort's campground, where hundreds of campers are expected to put down stakes for a local radio station's event.

Kamp Omelette, a camping festival organized by WKLT 97.5 FM, will be held Friday through Sunday, even after a court order silenced its slate of live bands amid township officials' concerns about loud rock music.

These concerns aren't shared by the Elliotts and many residents who live around Timber Ridge.

"I've never had a problem with anything over there," Alyssa Elliott said.

Kamp Omelette organizers booked several bands, but now must comply with an injunction signed May 23 by 13th Circuit Court Judge Philip Rodgers, an order that bars live performances. The injunction only allows music "normally and customarily conducted in the normal course of business."

Lawyers for East Bay Charter Township filed a complaint after officials raised concerns about loud music emanating from the campground and into surrounding subdivisions and condominiums.

"We've come to an agreement with the campground owners that there's not to be any live bands of any form," said Peter Wendling, an attorney who represents East Bay Township.

WKLT General Manager Charlie Ferguson declined comment.

About 500 campers are anticipated to attend and many already bought $25 tickets, $5 of which will go toward Cherryland Humane Society. Organizers are offering refunds to ticket holders who planned to attend just to see live music.

Timber Ridge hosts several large-scale events each year -- including the North American Vasa Festival of Races and the Iceman Cometh mountain bike race -- that sometimes spark neighborhood complaints about parking. The events require transient activity permits from East Bay Township.

Township Zoning Administrator Leslie Couturier said such permits must be sought 30 days before an event and Kamp Omelette organizers missed that window. But she said township officials also were being "proactive" about anticipated noise complaints.

"We're on board, but our main concern is our residents," she said. "We're concerned that they won't have a quiet weekend."

Couturier said she didn't know if residents made before-the-fact complaints about live bands.

Drew Elliott said noise has never been an issue for his family, which includes three young children. He said he looks forward to events at Timber Ridge and often offers parking in his backyard.

"They have stuff going on every weekend," he said. "You go inside and you don't really hear anything."

Resident Jill Simon said the resort can be noisy in the summer, but she's never complained.

"I guess it's par for the course," she said.

East Bay Township Supervisor Glen Lile said about 300 homes and condominiums surround the campground.

"The venue itself is probably a good venue, it helps Cherryland Humane Society, but I don't know how you can have a rock concert in a residential area," Lile said.

Timber Ridge owner Gordon Waggoner said township officials didn't initially inform him about their objections.

"I'm just a little mystified, I guess. Why all the hoopla over something that's never happened?" he said.

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Source: Record-Eagle, The (Traverse City, MI)