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Controversy in the Cascades: 4 Peaks Presents, LLC meet opposition 

Four Peaks Music Festival has already announced its lineup and plans for a bigger and better get-together with overnight camping and two days filled with

Four Peaks Music Festival has already announced its lineup and plans for a bigger and better get-together with overnight camping and two days filled with live music and revelry on private land outside Bend. Early birds can even grab advance tickets for the event on the festival website. The only thing, it seems, missing is a permit from Deschutes County that will allow the event to go forward. Event organizers had hoped to clear that last hurdle during a hearing Monday before the three-member Deschutes County Commission. The county's own staff was recommending approval of the festival's permit. However, faced with a group of vocal opponents that object to the potential for traffic jams and noisy crowds, the commission decided to hold off at least another week before deciding whether to green light the fledgling festival set for July 25-26.

In the meantime, supporters have been rallying for the festival. Commissioner Mike Daly said he has received at least two-dozen emails in support of Four Peaks.

While it's not clear how the commission will come down, Daly said he was leaning in favor of issuing the permit.

"As far as I'm concerned and as long as the application meets all the requirements, I don't know how we can turn them down," Daly said.

According to a county staff report prepared for the meeting, "The music festival would include camping, parking, food and drink for an estimated 3,000 people." Organizing an event of this magnitude brings a lot of issues to the table. Sound ordinance specifications, land-use concerns, insurance stipulations, public health requirements, law-enforcement standards, public safety measures, and fire support issues all assert themselves as problematic topics for the festival promoters to address.

Sound control is a major issue. Even though this is a rural neighborhood with ten to twenty acres per parcel, there were nine complaints last year-three on Friday and six on Saturday. This year, Four Peaks Presents wants to modify the sound ordinance to the level of seventy decibels all the way until midnight, tweaking the established ordinance of seventy decibels until 10:00 pm and a maximum of fifty being allowed until midnight, they are willing to work with the Sheriff's Department and have a sheriff monitor the decibel levels. But Lewis Jones, a neighbor, says "I want to hold the decibel meter myself."

Neighbors like Jones have lobbied the commissioners with letters and showed up to Monday's meeting to voice their displeasure with plans for this year's event, which include expanded parking and camping and projections for larger attendance than last year's inaugural event.

As Harold Springs, one of the concerned neighbors, said, "Last year I was in support of the event. This year, I am on the other side of the fence."

One of the big unknowns for organizers and commissioners is just how several thousand revelers will behave. But if last year is any indication, said organizer Eric Walton, the county has nothing to fear. "The crowd cheered for the Sheriff's Department," he noted. After all, as Walton notes, "it is a positive community event, not a death metal concert." The implication is that the same vibe that resonated through last year's festival will resonate again at this year's gathering.

Sheriff Larry Blanton said he wasn't comfortable hazarding a guess either way, though. "I have been trying to predict human behavior for 30 years.[...] Will they behave themselves? I can't guarantee their behavior." His main suggestion was that, "citizens have built facilities for events like this: the fairgrounds, Les Schwab Amphitheatre, and the Sister's Rodeo grounds."

Dovetailing with the question about law-enforcement standards are the public safety measures. Four Peaks Presents is requesting a waiver for an on-site ambulance. And Tom Wright of the City of Bend Fire Department pointed out that the Tumalo fire station is located just 1.5 miles away. In lieu of the on-site ambulance, a first-aid tent with two trained medical personnel is required. But this not a problem either, Wright explained, because, "last year we worked with the applicant" on this issue.

The City of Bend Fire Department must be provided with a final site plan of the event and must conduct an inspection of the site prior to the event, including potential fire risks such as food service areas, electric generators and camping sites. There also must be emergency access roads that are 20-feet wide, access points, and full-compliance with all fire code requirements. Four Peaks Presents made no objections to the parameters of fire safety.

Much to the dismay of festival organizers, however, the record remains open to allow commissioners time to consider additional testimony and facts related to the application. Those wishing to submit comments can send them to commissioners at board@deschutes.co.or.us

In the meantime, supporters hope that April 21 won't go down as the day the music died in Tumalo. *additional reporting by Eric Flowers

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