County board gives PeaceFest a chance : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|County board gives PeaceFest a chance|
|Concerns aired, but event to go on this weekend at campground|
|by Matt Schury|
Tom Tanner, owner of Hideaway Lakes Campground, addressed concerns about an upcoming music festival scheduled for this weekend during the County Board's committee of the whole meeting July 12.
The campground, located just south of Oswego near Van Emmon Road and Ill. Route 71, has been having concerts for over 30 years, according to Tanner.
The event scheduled is known as PeaceFest Campout 2.1. According to the festival website, tickets are $60 and the festival runs from Friday, July 20 to Sunday, July 22 at noon.
The website suggests the all ages show will be on two stages with 29 performers and an open mic stage. Additionally the event is promoted as including "fire performances" as well drum circles.
Tanner said he booked the event and doesn't believe the music is too intense.
"They tell me their music is mellow and it's not hard rock and not hard metal and not that type of music, which I don't like," Tanner said.
Angela Zubko, the county's senior planner, said she told the Planning Building and Zoning committee about the upcoming festival and they had some concerns.
Zubko reported to the board that the PBZ committee discussed amending the campground's special use permit to allow theses types of activities.
"But they ultimately decided they wanted to revoke his special use (permit) if he had this event," Zubko said.
However, the issue was never actually voted on by the four board members of the PBZ committee but forwarded to the County Board for further review.
Board member Nancy Martin, who chairs the PBZ Committee, explained that they were concerned that, if something happened, the county would be liable but later found out they would not be liable.
"We discussed-should we let them have it and see how it works out? But is that going to be a good thing or bad thing?" Martin said.
She added that the conclusion was that if Tanner was going to hold these events he should come in and amend his special use permit.
"That way you'd have a certain amount of control over the hours of the event, things like that like we did with the PNA camp," Martin said.
Board member Dan Koukol wanted to know specifically what the committee was concerned about.
Zubko responded there had been issues in other counties with the group who puts on PeaceFest.
"This particular event-called PeaceFest-has gotten kicked out of multiple jurisdictions and have been not allowed to have this festival ... at many different places," Zubko said.
Martin added that they had heard about "drug abuse" going on at the festival.
"I think it was in DeKalb last year," Zubko said adding that she contacted the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department who said they made six drug arrests last year for people on the way to the festival.
However, Zubko said the Sheriff's Department told her nothing "catastrophic happened at the concert."
Daniel Kramer, Tanner's attorney, said the special use the campground holds dates back to the early 1970s and has been amended before.
Kramer said he couldn't speak to the current event that they want to have but noted it is something that has been going on in the summer for a while.
Tanner said he has been hosting musical acts for years at the facility.
He noted that for this event about 900 to 1,000 people are expected on about 300 campsites. Hideaway Lakes has 150 acres of camping and they will be using about 60 acres for the festival
Tanner said a few weeks ago he had about 500 to 600 people at the campgrounds for a concert
"It went beautifully well. It was like a fest," Tanner said. "This is a different group now. See I don't know this group for sure, but I'm willing to give them a chance. They've already invested a lot of money here and at the last minute they can hardly cancel right now," he said.
He continued that if he had trouble with the group he wouldn't have them back.
"I've heard rumors about everybody and everything and I just can't go by rumors. If they are going to cause problems then they are out and will never come back," Tanner told the board.
County State's Attorney Eric Weis asked Tanner about the ingress and egress the fire districts wanted fixed for safety reasons.
He said he has two ingresses and repaired a broken bridge and worked those issues out with the fire districts.
He said he has worked with the local police departments as well as the Health Department.
Tanner pointed out that he will have off duty police officers that will be working the event and the promoters of the event have about 10 to 15 security people for the event
"This is my business, this is what I've done for 30 years. I can't believe you're actually thinking about (revoking) my special use ... and taking my zoning away," Tanner said.
Board member Jeff Wehrli, vice chairman of the PBZ committee, said he doesn't believe the board should force Tanner to cancel the event.
"I don't necessarily want to shut this thing down, I would just as soon react to a problem rather than the potential of a problem," Wehrli said. "Like you say you've been having these things for a long time and this one I think scared everybody because it got out on the Internet."
Toward the end of the conversation Chairman John Purcell asked the board what their pleasure was.
"Do we want to put this on the (County Board meeting) agenda or do nothing with it and let him run his event?" Purcell asked the board.
"Let him run the event," Board member Bob Davidson and Martin said.
Purcell agreed the event should go on as planned.
"I don't even know why we are looking at messing with this, I mean it just doesn't make sense," Purcell said.