Bend Roots Revival has been cancelled due to issues related to traffic and development at Century Center, where the seven-year-old festival was to have taken place.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Century Center owner Dave Hill.
Ongoing disputes between Century Center and its neighbors—like Nosler bullet factory and residents—are complicated.
Zoning, land-use, development standards, noise permits and a whole host of other wonky problems make it difficult for organizers to explain the decision to cancel the festival.
At the core of everything is that Century Center’s neighbors are hoping to use Hill’s efforts to expand to get the changes they want from the center. All that leveraging has prompted Hill to nix events like the roots festival.
“I’m just not willing to have more outdoor events,” said Hill.
Though Century Center’s woes with its neighbors are not new, things have come to a head this summer. In May, Century Center LLC made three development requests to the city.
- To remodel a building on 14th Street into retail space
- Convert a space near GoodLife into the Volcanic Theater Pub
- And officially change the use of the space where indoor concerts happen into an indoor events center. That space is currently approved for retail uses.
These requests trigger public processes that allow neighbors to go on record with their issues. That’s put Hill and Century Center management in a delicate negotiating position.
THE WONKY DETAILS
The city of Bend approved Hill’s request to remodel the 14th Street building and build the theater, said Craig Chenoweth, a planner with the city of Bend.
Hill’s third request, to get formal approval for the indoor events center, has been put on hold at Hill’s request, said Chenoweth.
“He was working with the residential neighbors,” said Chenoweth, “talking about how to reduce the impact on the neighborhood.”
Those neighbors have shown up at several Bend City Council meetings in recent months to complain about noise, traffic and even public urination related to activities at the Century Center.
It’s possible that if Hill proceeds with that indoor events center request, a hearing could happen in October or November, just weeks after the roots festival, which would likely draw thousands of concert goers to the Century Center grounds.
Not the best timing.
In the meantime, the bullet manufacturer, Nosler, whose facility is adjacent to Century Center, has appealed the city’s approvals to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals on the grounds that the city should have held a public hearing before giving Hill the green light.
More wonkiness here, but basically Nosler believes the city should have been more strict in its review of Century Center’s development plans.
“The underlying issue is simply how many trips the overall property is generating,” said Stephen Hultberg, Nosler’s attorney. “I think it’s fair to say there is a dispute over that number. When a certain number has been reached Commerce has to be improved.”
Commerce Avenue is a dirt road running east off 14th Street adjacent to the Century Center. Future improvements are likely the center's responsibility, said city staff.
Nosler wants Commerce Avenue paved because its manager are concerned about traffic moving too quickly through a Nosler parking lot that provides access to the center. Nosler officials hopesthat paving Commerce will alleviate that traffic.
“We’ve had some close calls,” said Nosler spokesperson Zack Waterman, about employees whom he said had almost been hit by vehicles heading to the Century Center. “Our main concern is employee safety between the two parking lots.”
LUBA is likely to make a decision on Nosler’s appeals within the next three or four months, said Kelly Burgess, a paralegal with the state agency.
The agency could decide that the city made the right call to approve the Century Center improvements, or they could remand the issue back to the city of Bend. At that point, the city would possibly hold the public hearing Nosler is seeking, said city planner Chenoweth.
TOO MUCH AT STAKE
Hill said he wants to develop his property while continuing to work with his neighbors.
“I’m going to continue to try to move forward,” he said.
But for now, it’s difficult to justify holding events that could further damage his relationship with his neighbors, especially because there’s very little financial gain for him, he said.
“I don’t receive any revenue from the Roots festival,” said Hill, who often offers the use of the Century Center to non-profits and community groups for discounted rates. “I was doing it to support the music and arts community. ”
The organizers of roots want to change his mind.
“I’m going to ask Dave to reconsider,” said Jesse Roberts, the founder of Rise Up, a non-profits arts organization that is helping put on Bend Roots Revival this year. “The more I learn, the more I think that roots is caught in the middle.”
Mark Ransom, the founder of the festival said he’s frustrated to see all his work come to naught.
“It’s a huge disappointment and I just hope people understand how out of our hands it is,” said Ransom.
As of press time, the Bend Roots Revival Facebook page was calling on supporters to join with organizers in pushing for the festival to go on. But Ransom said if Hill doesn’t change his mind, the festival will not change venues.
Nosler’s attorney said his client is not opposed to the festival in any way.
“I think it needs to be really clear that Nosler did not object to this,” said Hultberg, Nosler’s attorney. “There has been an ongoing dispute between the parties but it has nothing to do with this music festival.”
Ransom said he's heard residents nearby also want the festival to go on.
But if Hill does change his mind, he must face a public hearing required by the new noise permitting process recently approved by the city. Festival organizers have requested a noise permit allowing them to exceed the city’s standard noise decibel limit, though the festival must shut down louder noises by 10 p.m. even if a permit is granted.
That hearing will place Hill and the Century Center directly in the line of fire of nearby residents looking for opportunities to document their complaints.
It’s a gamble Hill said he isn’t willing to take “until some of these issues get resolved.”
Source reporter James Williams
contributed to this story.
We Made An Error
In our news story last week headlined "Seniors Want Their Money Back" we incorrectly reported the amount of a bond measure the Bend Park and Recreation District is asking voters to approve this fall. The bond measure request is $29 million. We deeply regret this error.