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Outdoor music festival gets preliminary OK for Memorial Day weekend in Green Lake Township, Minn.

WILLMAR -- A Willmar man has received preliminary approval to hold a two-day outdoor music festival over the Memorial Day weekend on a 10-acre farm site near Twin Lakes in Green Lake Township, as long as he meets strict county requirements.

David Nelson said he would meet the conditions, including paying for Kandiyohi County sheriff's deputies to provide security and traffic patrol, even though he had hoped to use volunteer security guards.

Paying for deputies would increase the costs for the live music event, which is called Stitchfest.

Nelson said he expects to host at least eight bands from a wide range of musical genres and provide camping, food, merchandise, vendors and games for the estimated 300 to 500 paying guests.

He has been working with the county sanitarian for licensing of food.

Alcohol will not be provided but Nelson told the Planning Commission on Monday he expected some participants would bring their own alcoholic beverages.

A number of neighbors objected, saying there has been a long history of loud parties and music on the site for many years that has left a sour taste in their mouths.

"It's a disaster waiting to happen," said Virgil Valentine.

The music festival has apparently been taking place for the last couple years without a conditional use permit.

Nelson had initially sought an annual permit for the event but said the festival has outgrown the location. Instead he is asking for a conditional use permit for just this year, with music scheduled for May 25-26.

County Commissioner Harlan Madsen, who also serves on the Planning Commission, said Nelson experienced a "rude awakening" with the daunting challenges of getting a permit for the event.

Neighbors expressed concerns about late-night noise, dust, garbage and dangerous traffic and parking on the narrow gravel road.

Because it's expected some participants would be drinking alcohol, residents raised concerns about accidents if participants drove. Nelson said that's why he was making camping available.

Zoning Administrator Gary Geer said different sections on the site had been marked off for camping and parking and he believed the size of the property was adequate. Parking would not be allowed on the road right of way and music must stop by midnight.

In his written recommendation, Geer said the music fest is an allowable event in a general agricultural district but he also included eight conditions including a warning that violation of the permit may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor and may be cause for revocation of the permit.

The Planning Commission approved the conditional use permit on a vote of 4-1 with Madsen casting the only no vote. Two board members were absent.

The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners will take final action Tuesday.

Also on Monday, the Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for the construction of the Word of Faith Lutheran Church. The 52-by-80-foot church will be located at 16245 County Road 9 N.E. in a residential area of New London Township.

The congregation obtained a permit to build the church in 2008 but construction didn't take place. Because that permit had expired, the church needed to seek approval again.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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