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Milford Beacon
  • Sussex County Council defers making a decision on country music festival

  • Country music fans will have to wait a bit longer to find out if a festival is coming to Southern Delaware after Sussex County Council members voted 3-2 on Aug. 12 to defer the matter until the Aug. 19 County Council meeting.
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  • Country music fans will have to wait a bit longer to find out if a festival is coming to Southern Delaware after Sussex County Council members voted 3-2 on Aug. 12 to defer the matter until the Aug. 19 County Council meeting.
    During the nearly two hour discussion, Councilman Vance Phillips proposed a set of conditions that could be adopted to regulate the event, Phillips later withdrew his proposed conditions and made a motion that the council defer.
    “I would like to give the applicant the opportunity to withdraw his application so that he could reapply…with a detailed site plan and application,” Phillips said.
    The vote to defer by county council came less than a week after Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-1 to recommend a denial of the application to Sussex County Council during a regular meeting on Aug. 7.
    Commissioners voted to recommend a denial based on a lack of information provided during a July 10 public hearing in which Dewey Beach businessman Alex Pires outlined his plan for the festival. Commissioners said not enough detail was provided for the site plan of the proposed festival location, which Pires said would be held on about 500 acres of a farm in Harbeson.
    “It’s a very involved proposal,” commissioner Michael Johnson said during the meeting. “My concern is the presentation was lacking in detail and didn’t have adequate information to make a recommendation.”
    One dissenting vote came from Commissioner Rodney Smith, who said the benefits of hosting a music festival in Sussex County warrant the application’s approval.
    “I do feel it’s a good idea,” Smith said. “I do think it would benefit the county.”
    Commissioner Martin Ross said he also likes the project, but a recommendation for approval needs to be based on land use, not how the commissioners feel about the concept.
    Johnson move to recommend a denial of the application based on a lack of sufficient information at the July 10 public hearing and a lack of detail in the site plan, which is required by planning and zoning code for approval.
    “The commission doesn’t have enough [information] to understand the scope of the [proposal], how it relates to the area and if it meets the land use requirements,” he said.
    A few residents who live near the proposed site said they were pleased with the commission’s decision.
    “I’m elated,” said Jim Chaconas, a resident who lives less than a mile from the proposed festival site and has opposed the plan since it first came to light a few months ago. “It’s the right decision.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Pires was not present at the meeting and could not be reached for comment by the time this article was published.
    Pires previously has stated that, while he would like the festival to be held in Sussex County, he has a back-up location at the Harrington State Fairgrounds if officials do not approve his proposal.

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