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Queensbury officials say West Mountain owner never got town approval for festival

2012-07-26T17:32:00Z 2012-07-30T09:27:24Z Queensbury officials say West Mountain owner never got town approval for festivalMAURY THOMPSON - thompson@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star

QUEENSBURY -- The owner of West Mountain ski center failed to get town Planning Board approval for a multi-day music festival scheduled for Aug. 3-5 at the ski center, said Craig Brown, the town zoning administrator, on Thursday.

Holding the festival without the approval could result in the town taking legal action, Brown said.

Mike Barbone said the festival, called Freedom of Expression 2, will go on as planned, without the approval.

“I’m going to have the festival here for three days,” Barbone said. “It’s a business decision on the part of West Mountain, and I’m going to do it.”

Barbone said there was not enough time to go through the Planning Board application and hearing process before Aug. 3, and he disputed that a Planning Board approval is necessary.

Town Supervisor Dan Stec said it’s unfortunate that Barbone intends to hold the festival without approval.

Whether the town takes legal action may hinge on reaction from neighbors.

“Maybe some of the town’s response to him moving forward with this event without the permit may very well be guided by reaction we get from the neighbors,” he said.

Stec said he hopes neighbors will contact town officials and express their thoughts now, rather than after the festival.

“Maybe the best thing I can do right now is say, ‘We’d be interested in hearing from the neighbors before the event whether there’s a big concern,’” he said.

The festival will have a lineup of 35 alternative and hip-hop acts appearing on three music stages, including a main stage under a big tent, according to Upstate Productions, the festival promoter.

A fourth stage will feature comedians, dramatic skits, yoga instruction and arts workshops.

Between 500 and 1,500 people are expected to attend, Tim Sullivan, of Upstate Productions, has said.

Sullivan did not return an e-mail message on Thursday seeking comment for this report.

Barbone disputed that the town Planning Board approval is necessary.

“I’m zoned for it. I’m zoned recreation and commercial,” he said.

Barbone said concerts and festivals, including several with overnight camping, were held at West Mountain in the past, under previous ownership, without the town requiring Planning Board approval.

“We’ve had Fourth of July concerts here with 5,000-plus people, and all of a sudden now we have to have permits,” he said.

But Brown said town zoning code requires Planning Board approval for an outdoor event of the size and scope of the festival, which includes overnight camping, regardless of how the property is zoned.

Stec said that the whole purpose of the special use permit is to give neighbors a chance to raise concerns about issues such as noise and sanitation, and to make sure those concerns are addressed.

“Now maybe the neighbors won’t care. But you won’t know that unless you conduct these kind of reviews,” he said.

Stec said Barbone should have checked with the town.

Anthony Sarraino, marketing assistant at West Mountain, said Wednesday the event had been cleared with the town.

But Brown said Thursday that the first he heard about the festival was when The Post-Star contacted town officials on Wednesday to inquire about it.

Brown said the chances are “almost nil” that a special Planning Board meeting could be scheduled before Aug. 3, because of a 10-day public notice requirement.

Contacted Thursday, Sarraino said he spoke with a Town Board member in July, who told him the festival fit within town zoning, and no other approvals or permits were necessary.

Sarraino said he did not remember which Town Board member he spoke with.

Stec said no one from West Mountain spoke with him or any other Town Board members.

Ronald Montesi, the 2nd Ward councilman, and John Strough, the 3rd Ward councilman, told The Post-Star that no one from West Mountain spoke with them about the festival, and 1st Ward Councilman Anthony Metivier said he did not recall anyone from West Mountain speaking with him about the festival.

Timothy Brewer, 4th Ward councilman, had not returned a voice mail message seeking comment, as of 5 p.m. Thursday.

Brown said there are several actions the town could take if the festival is held without Planning Board approval.

“We’d have to take them to court and the judge would have to find them guilty,” he said. “But that depends. Do we call it a violation? Or do we just write them up and say, ‘Don’t do it again.’ I don’t know.”

Brown said he had not yet researched what the maximum potential fine would be.

Brown, like Stec, said the decision might hinge on the neighborhood’s reaction.

“If it’s a two-band thing and four people show up, it’s probably not a big deal,” he said. “But if it turns into a large problem and there’s lots of noise complaints, there are certain penalties in the town code that address this.”

Strough, Montesi and Metivier, like Stec, said they would wait to see if the festival actually is held before they consider what action the town should take.

Barbone said he’s trying to diversify his business during a tough economy.

“This is what we need to do to try to survive and try to bring in more cash flow in the summer,” he said.

“He’s trying to generate revenue. We respect that,” Stec said. “But clearly, the purpose for this special use permit review that the Planning Board would conduct is to answer the questions that may arise from the neighbors about things like noise and sanitation.”

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(26) Comments

  1. derringer
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    derringer - August 01, 2012 3:18 pm
    Typical money grabbing by local authority! Why encourage a three day good time where people will spend money? Only focus on the negative....as usual. I will be there injecting money into the local economy anyway! To the nay sayers, money grubbers and all the other crybabies I say BURY YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND AND MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS INSTEAD OF RUINING A GOOD TIME!
  2. local433girl
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    local433girl - July 30, 2012 12:44 pm
    I think there are two things that have people in nearby homes concerned: overnight camping in a place that doesn't have camping facilities and hasn't had overnight festivals before, and Mr. Barbone's attitude toward the permitting process. It's not that hard to fill out a form and submit a permit application for a special event. You have to cover sanitation, parking and security. Assuming those bases are covered, it would be approved. I feel very bad for the snowless winter and the stress the operation must be under. I don't think it excuses him from abiding by the law. If I needed to move my ailing mother-in-law into my house and had to put an addition on, my stress wouldn't excuse me from getting a building permit. Queensbury wouldn't think twice about enforcing the code, as it shouldn't in this case. That having been said, maybe they can have an emergency meeting, review his permit application and if everythign is in line, approve it!
  3. rdc
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    rdc - July 30, 2012 11:22 am
    God forbid that a business should conduct business and make money!
  4. Ijustgottasay
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    Ijustgottasay - July 30, 2012 9:05 am
    You folks are missing the point. I respect your opinon that the Town is too regulated when it comes to business, but that's not the point. Like it or not, there is a process for Mr. Barbone to get what he wants, and he has chosen not to follow the process. Why do you think he doesn't have to go through the process but all the other business owners do? The problem is not the fesitval(s); it's the attitude of Mr. Barbone that he doesn't have to follow the rules.
  5. PAWS31
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    PAWS31 - July 29, 2012 1:18 pm
    I second "Bx Boy".....Maybe the town should go back (and spend their time) to looking into who can and who can't move rock walls on their property.....or better yet, get a jump on imposing rules for businesses hours of operation on holidays (which Tony Metivier suggested last year) Or maybe they can spend their time finding another rock, with weeds growing around it to "welcome" people to the Town of Qby for thousands of dollars. With this board, the possibilities are endless! Or, they can encourage Mr. Brewer to go get some help, before he kills somebody with his vehicle or ends up (following through) slapping someone at a meeting. Also, maybe they could pass a law, that with any gov't worker gets caught with fraud, gets charges dropped, full salary/benefits for months..AND all they have to do it stay home. I really wonder sometimes how this board views themselves....if at all. If you need a good laugh, watch the televised board meetings on channel 8 on the weekends. Pathetic.
  6. AnotherGuy21909
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    AnotherGuy21909 - July 29, 2012 12:04 pm
    I think anyone who has a problem with this has serious problems how can you down a place that every ski or snowboarder in the area goes to for trying to keep their place a float because of a couple of really bad winters yes some permits r needed for things but its a place where large amounts of people go every winter just because its summer shouldnt have any difference its a well known place queensbury just sucks
  7. BX Boy
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    BX Boy - July 29, 2012 9:04 am
    Barbone is surrounded by neighbors that built their homes after the ski area was developed. They all made their decisions to live there knowing about the R-C zoning. Yet Stec says they should have the opportunity to tell Barbone how to run his business. Think about the quality of life the ski resort offers to our community, the employment/jobs, the taxes paid and then tell me neighbors should have a say re a concert. No way, reminds me of the paintball fiasco.
    Maybe Tim Brewer was doped up and told West Mountain it was OK. He can get away with driving under the influence twice, the Queensbury Town Board has no crediabilty as long as he serves.
  8. independentguy
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    independentguy - July 28, 2012 4:19 pm
    this is the problem with our controlled society. there is no free market capitalism unless you ask for permission and then pay the king. no wonder our unemployment is so high, our taxes are so high, and the confidence of the people in our government is so low.
  9. CH
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    CH - July 28, 2012 8:10 am
    West Mtn. Ski area has benefitted this area for many, many years by providing recreation to our families and income to area restaurants, motels and stores. After several years of a poor economy and then a snowless winter, this valuable asset to our area must be in jeopardy and deserves our support for any effort they make to stay in business. There are very few small ski areas left in business in the north east.
    Let's try to see the big picture.
  10. POI
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    POI - July 27, 2012 11:39 pm
    Lets send business everywhere north and south of our area but make sure nothing happens in QBY and GF... NUTS!!!!
  11. pfenton
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    pfenton - July 27, 2012 6:39 pm
    Young Sarraino says that he can't remember which Town Board member he spoke with regarding the zoning concerns but he was told that the festival "fit within existing zoning rules"!
    Well...... there are only 5 "Bored" members so why don't we have a lineup where Mr. Sarraino can stand behind a one way mirror and try to identify which member he spoke with? We have to get to the bottom of this. For all we know there could be imposter's roaming throughout the Town masquerading themselves as Board members! These fake members could be giving approval to all kinds of events without having the authority to do so!
  12. Don Donofrio
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    Don Donofrio - July 27, 2012 5:41 pm
    500-1500 people at an event at a place as huge as West Mountain? That's like a fly in 55 gallon barrel. You won't even notice it except for the traffic afterward, and with camping even that will be minimized.
  13. johnr
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    johnr - July 27, 2012 5:32 pm
    What's the worry of the town or the neighbors from a music festival taking place in their town?

    The event will no doubt include its own medical and safety staff, and the venue already has good access for emergency vehicles. This should be the only real concern.

    How could anyone complain about a little music one summer weekend?
  14. Bill In Glens Falls
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    Bill In Glens Falls - July 27, 2012 5:15 pm
    Serious question, and while I hate to ask it, I think it's valid.

    It is were a country show, a rock show or an oldies show, would it engender the same concern as a festival that has" alternative and hip-hop acts?"
  15. arch2b2
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    arch2b2 - July 27, 2012 5:01 pm
    This is a classic example of hyper-regulation and the law of diminishing returns as it pertains to zoning and planning in our country. If the town of Queensbury spent less time regulating signage, curb cuts, storm water run-off and draconian permitting processes than drain the wealth of it's residents and spent more time developing a cohesive town plan with less focus on single use zoning and "green space", they might end up with a place that is worth caring about, instead of the hyper zoned, isolated "town" it has become. The system is broken...We used to know how to do things well at one time...There is no better example than Glens falls...Where is the heart of Glens Falls and how do you feel when you're in it? We can all answer that...Where is the heart of Queensbury? Intersection of Route 9 and Aviation?.....how do you feel when you're there? Right...
  16. Ijustgottasay
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    Ijustgottasay - July 27, 2012 4:19 pm
    If Mike Barbone had bothered to read the Town Zoning Code, it clearly states that an outdoor concert in an area zoned "Recreational Commercial" requires a Special Use Permit. It took me all of two minutes to find that information.
  17. PAWS31
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    PAWS31 - July 27, 2012 2:35 pm
    If his property is zoned for this, then I don't see the problem. ...maybe the way "recreational" is worded could be a problem/vague. Anyway, even if he is in the right to hold such an event, it's still a good idea to be a good neighbor to those immediately surrounding the ski center. I'm sure a quick meeting of the neighbors at the ski center, would end up fine....and probably many of the neighbors wouldn't show up anyway. Those that do, I'm sure a few free passes, would put a smile on their face and just leave it at that. From what I'm reading about what will be at this festival, I'm kind of jealous that I don't live on the mountain myself!!! Sounds like there is fun for all ages....and close area fun...instead of having to drive to SPAC or Washington Co (Fair) or Albany/Troy. West Mtn has ample parking for this and if (if any) loud music doesn't go into the night, I really don't see a problem neighbors may have...........????????????
  18. gfdann
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    gfdann - July 27, 2012 11:16 am
    If his property is zoned for this type of use then what's the big deal? You would think that after how the winter affected business at west mt that the town would welcome this. Perhaps because its a musical festival that doesn't appeal to the taste of Stec & the board members?
  19. whathe
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    whathe - July 27, 2012 7:56 am
    My suggestion to Barbone would be to immediately go talk with the neighbors, hear their concerns (if any...) and assure them he'll address them.
  20. taberski
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    taberski - July 27, 2012 7:48 am
    shouldn't there be procedures already in place!? No that's right the gov't has to rape your pockets w/permits & fees!
  21. sasquatch
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    sasquatch - July 27, 2012 7:27 am
    It's none of the nosy neighbors' business. Neighbors are obsessive-compulsive types who engage in all kinds of "what if" dreams. The festival is a one-time or once-a-year even that is no more worrisome than the 4th of July or Labor Day weekend, despite the imagined worries of people who like to worry. The neighbors should refrain from their own inappropriate behaviors. Stick it to Stec. Stick it to the Town. Sell West Mountain to a Muslim summer camp, and then listen to the nosy neighbors.
  22. hammerdan
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    hammerdan - July 27, 2012 6:33 am
    Your property is not your "OWN" in the town of Queensbury!!
    The town government tells you what you can and cannot do in your yard!
  23. jawjew2jab
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    jawjew2jab - July 26, 2012 10:16 pm
    I think it's a good idea they had a crappy winter not by their choice and they're trying to survive like the rest of us in this economy. Hopefully it all goes well!
  24. dot2dot
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    dot2dot - July 26, 2012 8:41 pm
    Can not believe the Board is so hesitant to enforce the rules???
    These kind of events have a history of problems...
    Is it really fair to make the neighbors the fall guys here?
    The Board doesn't want to enforce the rules until neighbors complain...
    Real leadership.
    Of course, maybe the Board knows someone did agree it was okay?
  25. loneoak
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    loneoak - July 26, 2012 7:11 pm
    Government getting in the way of free enterprise, if he is zoned for it then let it be. Sounds to me like the town wants a piece of the action either through additional permits or fines. The people who live in the area own property near a ski area, their choice. Something good for the area and the people and it already is a problem due to government intervention.
  26. summit2
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    summit2 - July 26, 2012 6:24 pm
    doesn't pay the electric bill, and now he won't follow the law? What is up with Barbone and West Mt? Queensbury needs to enforce its laws on everyone. If this law is on the books, they shouldn't be waiting for someone to complain. they should be taking what ever legal action needed. If I needed a building permit, and didn't get it, you can be sure they would fine me.


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