Organizers of the 4 Peaks Music Festival will have to wait more than a week to learn if they’ll be able to return to their new home next summer.
Deschutes County Commissioners heard nearly three hours of testimony Monday from festival proponents and detractors concerning whether the county should issue the permit needed for the 2018 festival to proceed. The commissioners elected to put the hearing on hold, and intend to resume and make their decision at their next meeting Nov. 1.
After staging nine festivals in the Tumalo area, the festival moved to a new location closer to Bend last year, the D.M. Stevenson Ranch off Knott Road. The ranch is located outside Bend city limits, about half a mile southwest of Knott Landfill.
Last year’s festival attracted an estimated 2,600 people to the 150-acre ranch, according to organizer Stacy Totland, for three days and three nights of live music and camping.
The permit currently under consideration would allow up to 2,999 people on the property for the June 21-24 festival.
Speaking to the commissioners Monday, some residents of the surrounding area said last year’s festival was a significant imposition on their neighborhood.
Kathy Minar, who lives just east of the festival site, said last year she and her family heard bands playing past the county-mandated 10 p.m. cutoff, and heard festivalgoers yelling and partying until 3 a.m.
Minar and her husband, Steve, detailed a long list of complaints about last year’s festival and concerns about what could happen if the festival returns next summer, including drug and alcohol use, too few security personnel and the alleged stress the festival caused to their daughter’s pet turkeys and rabbits. She said her daughters, ages 13 and 17, estimated they lost $4,800 related to animals they were raising as a result of the festival.
Kathy Minar said cattle wastes and cattle birthing in the pastures may have introduced pathogens that could be transmitted to humans if disturbed, and the supposed risk of festivalgoers damaging a large, buried natural gas pipeline that traverses the property.
The county should not issue the permit, Steve Minar said, and should instead steer the festival toward more suitable venues like the Sisters Rodeo Grounds or the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center.
Chuck Fisher, who manages a ranch to the south of the music festival site, said he was primarily concerned about fire danger and security last summer.
Fisher said the owners of the ranch he manages have spent $60,000 over the past two years in an attempt to improve wildlife habitat. The festival drove off many of the animals, he said — hawks returned to the area about a month after the festival, while elk and eagles have yet to return. He suspects the deep bass tones from the festival sound system may have had something to do with it.
Jeff Hinkle, site manager for the music festival, said many of the concerns raised by neighbors are overblown. He said all of the decibel readings he took last year were below the maximums permitted under county code, and that the Minars spent much of the festival “standing at the fence line, looking for anything and everything they could use against us.”
“This is not about anything substantive, this is about NIMBY-ism,” Hinkle said.
Steve Hultberg, an attorney representing the festival organizers, said state law is clear that the county cannot deny a permit if organizers demonstrate they are capable of abiding by health and safety standards.
Totland said festival organizers have already agreed to some changes to minimize the impact on neighbors, including reorienting the stage and camping areas, securing a watering truck to help keep dust down, and additional signs to keep visitors off neighbors’ property.
The county commission will be accepting additional written testimony through the end of the day Wednesday. The hearing resumes Nov. 1 at 10 a.m.
— Reporter: 541-383-0387, firstname.lastname@example.org