Planning Board Hears Discusses Mass Gathering Application

STARKS - Planning Board members found plenty to question Wednesday in an
application for a mass gathering permit for the Maine Vocals' annual
Hempstock festival.

Wednesday night, members of the Starks Planning Board reviewed the
application for completeness. Board member Gwen Hilton said she was not
sure when the board, which meets once a month, would decide on the application.

By press time, the board had not finished its review. Only after the board
decides the application is substantially complete can it make a decision.

The pro-marijuana rock concert is scheduled for Aug. 15 to 18. Members of
The Maine Vocals, a group that advocates legalization of marijuana, say
they hope 4,900 people attend, with about 1,900 of that number camping on site.

The weekend long pro-marijuana rock festival has always been controversial.
This year, however, two separate lawsuits related to last year's concert
overshadow the event.

The town brought a lawsuit against the Maine Vocals for failing to follow
the ordinance. The Maine Vocals responded with a lawsuit that claimed the
measure was unfair and unconstitutional.

Donald Christen, president of the Vocals, was unable to attend the hearing
because bail conditions for charges of disorderly conduct related to last
year's concert largely prohibit him from visiting Starks. Vocal member
James Hardenburg represented the Vocals at the meeting.

Hardenburg told board members at one point that the Vocals did not plan to
adhere to the noise level required under Starks' mass gathering ordinance,
choosing instead to follow the state's requirements, which are
significantly higher.

"What you are basically telling us right up front is that you are not going
to respect (Starks' noise limit)," said Kerry Hebert, a former member of
the Planning Board who attended Wednesday's meeting as a citizen.

Hilton also asked Hardenburg if the Vocals planned to apply for a state
mass gathering permit. Hardenburg said he could not answer that question

Hardenburg said he would try to respond quickly to several board questions
he could not answer at the meeting.

Pubdate: Thu, 04 Jul 2002
Source: Kennebec Journal (ME)
Copyright: 2002 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc
Author: Alan Crowell
Bookmark: (Cannabis)