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Citizens concerned about 5,000-person concerts in Cherry Valley

This is the latest example of madness in the County!

Cherry Valley, South Marysburgh, and Athol residents have recently learned of a proposal for the rezoning of prime agricultural land in Prince Edward County – previously the Cherry Vale farm property (1927 County Road 10) – that backs onto the village of Cherry Valley.

The zoning proposal requests a 5,000 outdoor concert venue with 1200 parking spaces, an unlimited number of events per year, of up to five days in duration, and loud noise between 7am and 2am.

At this size and scale, the invaluable farmland would become the largest event venue in Prince Edward County and as far as a 100-150km radius in the region.

Our concerns are:

– The destruction of designated prime, agricultural, organic farmland for the sake of parking lots and event-related buildings.

– The lack of environmental assessment of noise, vibration, and human activity as this property sits within an important, natural wetland habitat.

– Public safety due to the lack of traffic control both within the private property and on public roads surrounding the property. The area sits next to a public school, with access through a village that already has traffic congestion and speeding issues.

– Excessive noise to a quiet community that does not welcome such a venue, and particularly in the majority hours of the day (between 7am-2am).

– The lack of emergency evacuation plans and fire prevention for crowds of such a size.

– There is also currently no limit to the number of trailers and camping spots on the property.

– A lack of assessment or planning for waste and water management for this number of people over an extended period of days.

– The disruption of lives to an entire community for the benefit of one business.

County staff currently propose to move forward with a temporary permit allowing 2,000 people, three-day events, and loud noise between 7am-11pm.

We still think this temporary permit is too intense! The issuing of a temporary permit could also be a precedent for a permanent rezoning, and act as a foothold to approve the ultimate goal of a 5,000 person concert venue.

The proposal goes forth to council on Wednesday, May 16th (yes, tomorrow!). Only Cherry Valley residents within 120m of the property were notified very recently (despite previous concerts on this property in 2017 being heard many kms away). It’s important to note that council also cited the lack of comments from residents (despite the fact that none of us were notified or aware of the application). Make your voice be heard!

Click below to sign and include comments and concerns. And if you can, attend the council meeting Wednesday, May 16 at 7 p.m. in Shire Hall.

https://www.change.org/p/tess-girard-stop-the-5000-person-event-space-in-cherry-valley-pec?recruiter=863772457&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_term=psf_combo_share_message

Christopher Keen

Filed Under: Letters and OpinionNews from Everywhere Else

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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    Ken – too bad you feel that the world revolves around only those who you think have “skin in the game.” The point about being a community means we all have “skin in the game” and we respect the fact that not everyone is a quasi musician or rents port-a-potties. If this is your measure of who has the right to make an opinion, then so much for democracy. The points I made were logical ones based on process and not on personal attacks. If you have a problem with people who simply have a different point of view – then who has the problem?

  2. Susan says:

    Duh! Before they all arrived there were no concerts to even be concerned about. Lol

  3. hockeynan says:

    That was perfect Ken.I am sick and tired of the same group sticking there nose in everyone’s business no mater where they live in the county.It was a great place to live before they all arrived

  4. Fred says:

    Come now Ken! We have processes in place for good reasons. Follow the process, communicate and get your zoning prior to booking gigs. Who does something like this backwards? Assume all is fine?

  5. Ken Globe says:

    Of course Dennis. You have absolutely no skin in the game, and it’s on the other end of the county from where you live, so your opinion is completely valid. Those of us who are working musicians, or sound techs, or have food services, or have portapotties, rely on such festivals and events for their livelihood in the summer months. But if you want to take the county back to the 1920’s, by all means. While we’re at it, let’s put up a kiosk and gate with a guard to make sure all who come in have good local intentions and the rest can piss off.

  6. Dennis Fox says:

    This application for re-zoning has nothing to do with where the talent may come from – local or away or how badly a few people want to see it happen, or whether the land is of good quality for farming or not. None of this has any bearing on the rezoning process. As has been pointed out, this event has taken place over the past several years and is growing to the point that a larger space is needed – meaning a more in-depth look into how this will impact on the community, traffic, security and costs. Why anyone would plan an event and book performers, prior to the re-zoning approval, is foolish and wrong.

    For a proper re-zoning to take place, both proper notice and proper length of time must be given to the surrounding community – plus the opportunity for all to discuss this with their council – and that might take several meetings. From what I can gather this application has taken the immediate community by surprise and it appears that the rezoning process has been hastened to accommodate the applicant? This should not have happened. This is not the responsibility nor the fault of the concerned citizens – council owes it to their constituents to allow them time for a full discussion on this matter. Has the applicant ever considered the possibility of a NO to the rezoning application? Apparently not – and this is no doubt part of the problem – but only their problem, not ours. Personally, I would not feel under any pressure to rush this application – not when so many citizens have had no chance to make their feelings known to their council. I would still like to know if this use of farmland meets the Provincial Land Use Policy and can anyone explain why this rezoning wasn’t dealt with months ago?

  7. Pamela Huizenga says:

    I can’t believe how many people just jump to conclusions without checking out the facts of an issue. Yes, I understand that part of the issue was that there was not enough notice given for people to be aware of the zoning proposal.

    The Prince Edward County Country Jamboree was held in Milford for a few years and then moved to the site in question last year. It features local talent and others from the surrounding area. The attendees from what I’ve seen come in RV’s and trailers spend the weekend on-site with some frequenting local restaurants and touring the County with their cars in the mornings before the events which start around noon. Most of the attendees are 50+ in age. My parents are locals and go to these events and they are in their 70’s. This is not a rowdy drunk fest that some people are making it out to be.

    The organizers added the 50’s & 60’s Rock N Roll Music Festival last year and it is a lot of the same people attending this event as well.

    Now with the shortsightedness of the council these events are in jeopardy. The talent at these events need to be booked a year in advance in most cases and with no commitment of permits for the next year this can’t happen.

    It is local people who organize these events and a lot of local talent featured at them as well. Why should they have to relocate these events outside of the County now when I’m sure a lot of the people giving opinions have not even know some these events have been going on in this area for years without issues.

    It is NOT prime agricultural farm land and does not affect Public Safety. The events end by 11 pm. The traffic for these events does not even compare to the traffic of the people going to the Sandbanks and other campgrounds in the area.

    We should be supporting locals not trying to make them relocate out of the County.

    https://www.change.org/p/tiffaney-thompson-support-of-live-music-in-cherry-valley?recruiter=876455494&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=psf_combo_share_initial.pacific_abi_share_button_ordering_1.abi_featured_fb.nafta_share_post_interaction.control

  8. KeyBoard Warrior says:

    DARN! Why couldn’t this have happened 40 years ago? I would have enjoyed it then! Party Time!

  9. Paul says:

    What I’d like to know is where were all these people when the land sat vacant but now that someone has found a profitable use for they’re all against it. They don’t think about the revenue it can generate throughout the county. I live in the valley and I haven’t heard any noise from past events. I just think that if the County were to put any restrictions on this, it should be that the conveeners be made to hire locally from students to food trucks.

  10. Gary Mooney says:

    When people don’t have enough information, or enough time to consider a proposal, it’s not surprising that they express concerns. Davis R’s explanation is helpful, especially his assurance that they’re not looking at events for 5,000 people.

  11. Phil Norton says:

    Thanks to Sue Capon and CountyLive for providing a public forum to discuss issues such as this. I know of no other such forum in The County unless everyone attends Council meetings at Shire Hall. Weekly newspapers are good too but can’t be as immediate.

  12. Chris Keen says:

    Mr. Raistrick – just to clarify I did not create the petition, I simply passed it along to CountyLive because it was clear people had concerns and had been unable to find answers to them. I felt this was a “news” item that warranted wideer public discussion and CountyLive clearly agreed.

    Your rezoning request points out a flaw in the notification process. It makes sense if you are severing a lot to build a house that only the immediate neighbours will be affected and should be notified. If you are rezoning to set up an entertainment venue with a potential audience of 5000 people and 1200 cars, (whether that was the intent or not) clearly a much wider portion of the population needs to hear about it – and not days before a vote is to be held. County Council needs to discuss this and decide if broader notification in cases such as this is a good idea.

    You have responded and provided answers to may of the questions/concerns raised in the petition. I think that was likely its primary purpose. The “misunderstandings” are not the fault of those asking the questions.

    I have never had an issue with the events that have been held to date. I am confident that Council in its wisdom will ensure the rezoning is described in such a way as to preclude there ever being a chance of 5000 people, 1200 cars, unlimited events and so on as you have assured readers is the case in your reply.

  13. Ryan Noth says:

    100% agree with Ian’s statement!
    It would be foolish for anyone to agree to those larger, requested numbers, given the circumstances of the surrounding area. We must put restrictions on it so that everyone can be happy with the arrangement, and for the future benefit of the area. Particularly in case of a change of ownership or change of plans by the current owner.

  14. Michel Bérubé says:

    A bit more enlightening and reassuring. But still sceptical about the real intentions. We’ll see.

  15. Ian Sorbie says:

    Notwithstanding David Raistrick’s explanation which is reassuring, the issue is that the re-zoning application allows up to 5,000 people, 1,200 cars etc. One cannot fault people for being extremely upset when the application clearly states these numbers. The re-zoning cannot be allowed to happen since once done, if Mr Raistrick changes his mind or sells to someone else who wants to maximize the use of the land according to the re-zoning limits, the community has no recourse.
    The events he writes about – non-music, etc.- and the 200 to 550 attendee limits for two or three events similar to last year are all fine – as long as the land usage is clearly spelled out with appropriate limits – not 5,000 people and 1,200 cars.
    I’m sure Mr. Raistrick can find a way to satisfy Council and the Community and agree to the reasonable restrictions and land usage he has outlined above. Then everyone is happy.

  16. Ryan Noth says:

    David, it’s a real shame you and the promoters could not have presented this information to the public prior to us all having to find out about it through council zoning documents.
    All we are asking for is open discussion about the future of the property, to ensure that our surroundings remain the beautiful place we want to live.
    Looking forward to more clarification tonight and over the forseeable future.

  17. Chuck says:

    You have every right to an opinion but no right to sign me up for a donation.

  18. Paul says:

    Last I checked Chuck we live in a free Country where one is entitled to their opinion. I respect your right not to support farmers that being said these are the potential issues a prime area like Prince Edward County could face more and more in the future…

  19. David Raistrick says:

    Let me start by commenting that I am the owner of 1927 County Road 10.

    It is heartening to see that most of the comments are positive,and a massive shame that Christopher Keen and a few others appear to have a misunderstanding. I would have loved the opportunity to discuss them with Christopher but I have never met him and so must respond to his concerns in kind, on a public forum.

    This is not a re-zoning of Cherry Vale organic farm. It is only in relation to two small fields, both of which are graded 6R. In other words not prime agricultural, or even agricultural, but bedrock with 2-4inches of soil on top of it. Sadly not deep enough to grow any crops. Indeed, nobody in living memory remembers any vegetables of any sort being capable of growing there.(Ever tried growing carrots in 2 inch deep soil. As with any crop, the soil dries out as it is so shallow and unable to sustain crops. The remainder of the farm is unchanged.

    The primary aim of my wife and I was to host several arts and Crafts, Food and Wine or similar events every year. Not on a huge scale (you would never get 5000 people to attend even in the height of summer)and they would hopefully be in keeping with the county and of benefit to residents and tourists alike. We were even approached yesterday and asked if we would be willing to host an Athol Community day event, which sounds ideal. We are both big believers in community.

    At the same time, there were two events last year (200 RV’s and less than 500 people) which would continue, together with a one evening concert (April Wine, which followed the David Wilcox event last year. Our ideal would be for these to continue annually. Definitely not the wall to wall music concerns that I am hearing voiced.

    These are organized not by ourselves, but a local couple, who have lived in PEC their entire lives. We do not stand to “get rich” from allowing them to run the music events (subject to County approval)and would not even break even on our costs over the next decade.

    The fields concerned are 1.9KM from the school, and in any event I am not expecting a school to be open on a weekend in the evening.

    We have no plans to have 5000 people at the event. This is simply based on the application form, where the maximum number of people able to park is based on area per vehicle as set down under Ontario law. The county asked if we were comfortable reducing this to 2000, which we were. 5000 is not an aim, a target, or indeed a likelihood.

    On the noise question, our ideal as stated above is to hold non music events, but to allow our two locals to run their events, as they did last year. These are subject to a self imposed curfew of 11PM, which I am very happy to continue, and also subject to decibel capping, so the residents of Cherry Valley, some 2.1KM away should hear either none or at worst very little noise on the one evening and two weekends a year that music events are held there. Anybody who attended would be able to confirm that we followed our curfew, at a point when there was no scrutiny.

    The fields do not sit in an area of wetland, as they are at the opposite end of our property.

    I am baffled by the suggestion that we have not considered garbage, safety or similar concerns. They were automatically considered. As they should be. The fire service carried out an inspection before both of last years events (less than 500 people and 200 RV’s), and would before any event. All garbage was cleared after the event, and traffic was directed out after the events to ensure road safety.

    I would be delighted to discuss further with Christopher or anyone else who has concerns. This is not the thin end of the wedge, nor a sinister plan to bring a 150 acre music venue to the County (this is not Toronto – let’s be rational about this), will not involve concerts playing whilst children are sat at school, and is not a never ending stream of live bands. It is a classic mountain being made out of a tiny molehill through what appears to be a misunderstanding.

  20. Chuck says:

    I think with some careful planning this is a reasonable event. People can’t block everything everytime they might be slightly inconvenienced. And Paul, don’t start that subsidizing farmers crap again. I am not paying someone else’s taxes unless I get a piece of the deed.

  21. Paul says:

    The issue at hand is zoning for commercial public use it is currently zoned agricultural use…

  22. Ryan Noth says:

    To Craig’s point, the confusion over the amount of people is that the request was made for 5000 people and 1250 parking spaces. County staff has recommend a trail run at 2000 people. That doesn’t mean that is what council will accept or disprove, it just means that was the recommendation from a severely short and limited study to date.

  23. Ryan Noth says:

    To Sarah’s lengthy point – guess what, yes we can stop change if it is not what our community desires. So don’t be so dismissive of others who have serious concerns and have spent time looking into the matter as best they can, in a short period of time. All we want is for this to be studied properly, and all we can do until we know more is to respond to the actual numbers and information in the zoning requests at this time.

    Your assertion that what people ask for and what they do may be different things is also extremely flawed. If we don’t set constraints – on any developers – they will do what they want. That is a fact of of history, everywhere.

    You seem to be informed much more than anyone else in the area. And are going to great lengths to provide insider knowledge of the event. I wonder how you benefit personally – maybe you should disclose such interests.

  24. Craig says:

    Just wondering why there is a petition against 5000 concert goers when the application on PEC’s website is for up to 2000 people?

  25. Debra Marshall says:

    Once again a gateway to open up Prime Ag to development.
    Have you ever been at the intersection of COunty Road 10 and 18 during the tourist season. It is apparent that people do not know the rules of the road. People turning left in front of oncoming traffic going straight, people with the right of way from Milford stopping in the middle of the intersection deciding what to do. This is not a 4 way stop. Starting with 1200 vehicles, how is that going to work at this intersection?

    Now lets think of the impact on the water table…waste management… what will the impact be with a 5000 person venue? Extended hours until 2 am? What is being done to contain the noise…anything?

    Rome was not built in a day. I am not against change but let’s get it right the first time. This has a huge impact on Cherry Valley, the surrounding area and our entire roads infrastructure.

  26. Paul says:

    I watched a story this morning on CTV News about rising farmland values and Farmers being unable to carry the costs of increasing taxes and selling agricultural lands off to developers. Hmmmm Developers rezone and things like this happen. Guess maybe we should support our local Farmers a bit more maybe just sayin…

  27. Dennis Fox says:

    Some people say that you can’t stop change – hmmm, I think you can when you recognize that not all change is good. However, regardless of what side of the fence you are in this issue I believe common sense needs to start kicking in – other than the people wanting this re-zoning, who moved to The County or who has remained here for generations to have 5000 +++ outdoor rock concerts set up near to where they live? Is this what people new or not so new want and expect from living here? I highly doubt it.

    Sorry Sarah, not wanting this event does not make anyone old fashioned – not anymore than wanting it makes you groovy. Why should anyone have to put up with the mess, noise, traffic, “possible” drunk and related drug problems, the expense to the taxpayers, etc… – all because someone wants to make a big buck at our expense? I think it is time for some basic consideration and honest discussion to occur with this community, before any decision occurs – and leave the name calling out of it.

  28. Doug says:

    I live within 1 mile of the Milford Festival that was held for several years and noticed the area was clean ,the people orderly and could hardly hear the music .The land is not prime ag. so maybe allow a 2000 person limit and see what happens .The council should ask for a complete business plan on a trial basis .

  29. Sidney Huizenga says:

    As one of the people who attend these events, I agree with Sarah’s comment “I think this whole thing is being blown completely out of proportion by a few fear mongering individuals.”

    The school is about 3/4 of a mile away. Lets get real! Most of the people that go to these events are parked there for the duration and are not going in and out. What about the Wineries with people coming and going all day, every day? Speeding issues are not the fault of the vendor.

    This venue is not directly in town like Grafton who has their event 2 times a year and they ARE right in the town.

    The fire department has checked the site and area.

    Most of the campers are in RV’s and Trailers with their own waste and water on board. There are port-a-potties also on-site, water can be purchased also.

    We are adults we pick up our garbage, not like the County roads.

    The events bring people, who spend money other places in the County as well, not unlike other Events in the County like “Taste”, the Drag Races, Terrior, the Cheese Festival, the Bluegrass Festival, etc. These events also only run around $60-70 for the whole 3 day event which makes it affordable to attend, unlike many of the events in the County that are priced so high that locals can’t afford to even go to them.

    I’m 75 years old and have lived in this County for 72 years.

  30. Fran Vidal says:

    Perhaps instead of rezoning the farmland, you should look at the property on Bell Boulevard which is primarily industrial, so the noise wouldn’t be an issue and there is plenty of land available.

  31. suel says:

    I wonder if Sarah will volunteer for garbage clean up, help with emergency services, ensure habitat preservation and manage police complaints.
    This is incomparable to Montebello. Do your homework and stop being selfish. This has nothing to do with being old fashioned. We call it common sense thinking; something this County lacks in every aspect of administration.

  32. Gary Mooney says:

    We’re approaching the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, where a concert intended for 50,000 people became a concert for 500,000. Could the Cherry Valley site become Countystock?

    Under the previous owners the 146 acre property was mostly farmland, including prime ag land. The County shouldn’t be rushing a decision that could turn prime ag into prime parking for 1200 vehicles and 5,000 people.

    The petition mentioned above, which was started only today (Tue, May 15) already has more than 150 signatures (11:00 pm).

    This rezoning application should be deferred until people can catch their breath.

  33. Jim Raymond says:

    We do not support this at all

  34. Jim Raymond says:

    This has not had any proper evaluation. It is completely inappropriate for the area, will significantly disrupt the lives of Cherry Valley residences for the benefit of 1 business?

    5000 people with 1200 cars partying literally in town til 2 am? Sewage? Garbage? Vandalism? Noise.

    My Family has been in the county since Loyalist Days. My wife and I do not support this at all.

  35. Sarah says:

    I think this whole thing is being blown completely out of proportion by a few fear mongering individuals. I find it rather interesting that any of the discussions that popped up on Facebook, which clearly showed a good discussion back and forth, but mainly in favour of the events happening, suddenly got reported to Facebook Admin (not group/page Admins) and were removed automatically.

    It is clear, after reading many of these threads, the person who set up the “petition” has a lot of misinformation.

    Perhaps what people need to do is stop and think, BEFORE they react. This could very well be a great thing for The County, if it is done right and done respectfully.

    What I noted on one of the other groups, is that this these events sound very similar to what happens in a tiny village in Montebello, Quebec.

    Every year, for one long weekend from Thursday to Sunday, they shut the down down and hold a rock festival. Over 20,000 people from across the world come to this tiny village (it is smaller than Bloomfield).

    Parking areas are planned and arranged, and most people who attend camp in a 12×12 area in a farmers field, which is rented to them for about $150-$200 for the weekend.
    There are plenty of portapotty’s to accomodate the crowd and they are cleaned out a couple times a day. There are large water barrels so people can have water to rinse things and are also provided a bottle of water a day (more if temps are really hot), plus people bring their own bottled water and buy more from stores and vendors.
    There are predetermined areas for people to cook, or they can buy from food trucks, stores or other vendors.

    At this event, people walk 1 kilometer to the concert site from the camping and parking area. There are plenty of police on site, and emergency crew available. All paid for by the event coordinators/ticket holders. Music starts and ends by the designated times.

    Property owners who live in the town have actually embraced the event. They even sell tenting room on their own property for slightly higher prices than staying in the farmers field. They sell time in their shower, or use of their washroom. They make meals and sell it to the crowds. When I spoke to a couple of the home owners at the event last year. They told me they easily bring in $8000+ from that weekend, and they have rarely had an issue with any one attending. One home owner even had a senior mother living at her home, and the people staying on her property would sit with her mother and they would tell stories all afternoon. It was a pleasant experience for everyone.

    What is being proposed for this site is very low key in comparison. 5000 is not a whole lot of people. Also, just because a bylaw can stipulate that someone CAN do something, doesn’t mean it’s in their business plan to actually do something. The person going for this rezoning has been doing this for a while and a lot of people complaining and running to sign the petition didn’t even know it’s been happening.

    Yes, there are a number of questions the property owner and business organizer is going to have to answer. A lot of things they are going to have to plan.

    Did you even realize the land petitions the owner plans on using isn’t even classed as good farming land? Bet you didn’t. Because you didn’t ask. You just assumed it was all good farming land.

    This could be a very good thing for the County. It could draw in a lot of money.

    One or two weekends out of a year isn’t going to permanently damage any farm land. That’s just silly, uneducated thinking. Especially on land that has been, and will continue to sit unused for any farming purpose.

    Montebello Rockfest is in it’s 13th year. It started small. It started with opposition, but now it is a yearly celebrated event. It would be great to have a festival like it in this area (not necessarily hard rock/punk etc music, but something to draw people to the area in a positive way.

    If Council has questions or concerns, they should take the incentive and speak with the municipal leaders of Montebello and see how they handled things.

    But honestly, people need to start having more open minds and stop crapping on new things just because they are old fashioned or just because it’s The County.
    Sorry, but you can’t stop change.

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