Chaffee County’s planning commission will hold a public hearing April 6 to examine a proposal to greatly expand the number of events at The Meadows on the edge of Buena Vista.
The Meadows Farm Outdoor Theater & Event Venue Major Impact Review, outlines a proposal for the planning commission that would seek a permit for up to 12 events per year with more than 1,000 attendees, as well as permission for smaller-scale gatherings with no limits on the number of events.
The Chaffee County Board of Commissioners is then slated to hear the matter on April 20. Officials say they expect the hearings to be very well attended.
The well-known venue has hosted major events in past years (not in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic), including the Seven Peaks Music Festival, which, while it included camping, also packed lodging spaces, campgrounds and restaurants throughout the county and placed Buena Vista on music lovers’ maps.
The Meadows, owned by Jeb Selby, has held a permit allowing the land to be rented for three major events each year, including the SCA BattlemoorX reenactment. It placed no number or permit requirements on small private rentals.
But when Selby rented the outdoor space for private weddings, complaints began that Selby then needed a permit to even rent the land for weddings planned and executed by other wedding or event planning entities. To which he responded, asking whether that same requirement would apply to all landowners who rent land in Chaffee County, or was it directed at his venue because of its location.
The 277-acre site is in unincorporated Chaffee County on the west edge of Buena Vista off Crossman Avenue. The proposal calls for no new roads or parking areas and no permanent structures; stages will be put up and taken down with each event, according to the application filed with the county.
Because of the venue’s close-in location, Chaffee County has sought comments from the Town as a referral agency.
Last week, Buena Vista’s trustees heard a brief update on the matter from Town Administrator Phillip Puckett, who said staff was preparing a draft response to the proposal. He said that in general, the position was that “The impacts are significant and the infrastructure and support services are not adequate for that amount of activity going on throughout the year.”
He said there were concerns about impacts to surrounding neighborhoods and streets, the use of staff – including planning, police and fire services – as well as water use.
“There are concerns about our capacities to keep up with that,” he said.
Puckett said there can be economic benefits to the proposal, but they need to be weighed against negative impacts. He also noted that Buena Vista has been having very busy summers over the past few years.
Mayor Duff Lacy said there might be a “happy medium” for the proposal. He told AVV that more information is needed, but “There has to be a cap and limit as infrastructure, whether County or Town, would be stressed continuously.”