Reggae Fest Praised By HumCo Planners

by Daniel Mintz, April 14, 2016

Though its management has been generally praised by the county’s Planning Commission, the Reggae on the River music festival has to meet new requirements this year.

Issues related to placement of garbage and recycling bins, a temporary bridge over the South Fork Eel River and building permits led to new conditions for the three-day event, which takes place the first weekend in August at French’s Camp.

The event’s operations plan reflects a “status quo” approach due to “lack of issues” with last year’s event, said County Planner Michael Richardson. Attendance levels are the same as last year’s – 6,500 ticket holders plus 2,500 staffers, volunteers and performers.

A rain catchment pond has been installed on the property to eliminate the need for using a well that the county had flagged due to potential depletion of the South Fork Eel.

But Keith Bowman, the owner of the Grandfather Tree tourist attraction and gift shop, told commissioners that the festival’s garbage/recycling bins and portable toilets were placed 200 feet from his property after last year’s event, creating visual blight and odors.

He said the facilities were kept at the site during a post-event clean-up period and asked that resolution of the issue be added as a permit condition this year.

Commissioner Kevin McKenney noted that Bowman’s concerns were supposed to have been addressed and said there’s a “disconnect” between the county’s planning and building divisions preventing adequate permitting of some of the event’s infrastructure.

McKenney said the temporary bridge should be inspected by a licensed engineer, with sign-off by the county’s building division. He also noted that the event’s beer barn is unpermitted and said that handicapped accessibility issues may go unchecked without the building division’s involvement.

Richardson said the applicant – the Mateel Community Center – has submitted a permit application for the unpermitted barn building.

Steve Salzman of Greenway Partners, the event’s engineering firm, said he’s been working closely with the building division during the last two years and “I’m not finding a disconnect between planning and building.”

The garbage bins and porta potties have been placed about 400 to 500 feet from the Grandfather Tree’s gift shop, Salzman said, with further distancing limited by the presence of the river. He proposed installing “visual screening.”

The temporary bridge is permitted by federal and state agencies, Salzman continued, and the county’s building division has deemed that to be sufficient.

It was pointed out that a nearby “loop lot” used as a security staff headquarters could accommodate the refuse bins and toilets, as it’s vacant following the event. The relocation was added to McKinney’s motion to approve the event’s plan of operation and to have the temporary bridge be inspected by a professional engineer under the supervision of the building division. The motion also called for a check of the event site by the building division for structure permitting.

The motion was unanimously approved.

Also at the meeting, the Shelter Cove Resort Improvement District gained permit and environmental review approvals for a multi-site water tank replacement project.

The district is replacing seven water tanks on six different sites, primarily to improve tank stability and to eliminate vulnerability to earthquakes.

The capacity of one of the tanks is being expanded from 35,000 gallons to 100,000 gallons to ensure adequate water flow and pressure for firefighting.

A nearby property owner had concerns about the location of one of the new tanks but commissioners were told that the replacement tank has to be in a slightly different location on the same parcel to ensure continued water service during construction.

Commissioners unanimously approved a variety of permits and the environmental review for the district’s project.

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