Bijou gets sign, festival fatigue addressed at meeting

Dozens packed into the Traverse City Commission meeting Monday night to voice concerns.

It was a full house for Traverse Cityâ??s special commission meeting and study session Monday night. Residents packed in, requiring an extra stack of chairs.

The first issue on the docket regarded voting on a new marquee for the Bijou By The Bay movie theater in Clinch Park. Commissioners approved the measure, so film festival staff can move forward with the new sign plans.

Last week, the commission tabled the vote, waiting for legal advice by the city attorney regarding disposal of city park land. She came back saying there was no legal issue, so commissioners went ahead with the vote after hearing from the community.

The mayor said he is grateful for the people who came out to weigh in on the topic.

â??We need to have the public discuss what's important to them and prioritize them,â?? said Traverse City Mayor Michael Estes. â??That's the only way we're going to get the message here at the commission.â??

One stipulation was added to the sign's approval. A free-standing plaque will have to be added to the Bijou to honor the Con Foster Museum history.

The vote ended the special meeting. While a couple people got up and left, a majority of the crowd was there for the study session that followed regarding what is being called "festival fatigue."

It is an issue that has been debated over the past few years. Many residents say there are too many festivals taking place in Traverse City over the summer.

The most recent argument was raised when a Traverse City man tried renting out the open space for his â??quiet festivals,â?? essentially limiting the festivals taking place on the bay.

Many residents stated their concerns stem from noise issues. The city's noise ordinance enforcer explained what exactly can be done at the policy level. He suggested investing in C-scale noise monitoring technology, which would put greater restrictions on low frequency volume levels, or bass tones. The city currently only regulates A-scale violations, which are high frequency noises.

More than 20 people got up to voice their opinions regarding the use of the Open Space for a growing number of festivals.

â??I think the big thing that came out is why does everything have to be in the city?â?? said Lou Colombo, the Traverse City man who tried renting the Open Space. â??We're all for festivals, but there are other venues that can be looked at, even private venues.â??

Both sides were represented. One resident said there needs to be more venues for musicians to play.

Most agreed that having the discussion was a good first step.

â??We're here now, lets work on this and move forward,â?? said Sam Porter, Porterhouse Productions owner. â??Like all communities, Traverse City is growing. As we grow, how do we grow well, how do we grow better? That's what this is all about and it's working.â??

The city clerk discussed the city's suggestions for policy changes regarding the Open Space, including limiting the amount of high impact events that are put on each month, as well as adjusting application fees. Another option addressed prohibiting festivals during holiday weekends.