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Arapahoe County Denies Riot Fest Permit

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- Arapahoe County has denied a temporary use permit for the three-day music festival Riot Fest that was to be held at May Farms in Byers.

Riot Fest was scheduled for three days, Sept. 19-21, at May Farms and would have featured rock and punk bands like Slayer, Primus and Weezer.

Last year an estimated 15,000 ticket holders turned out for the concerts. This year that number was expected to grow as organizers requested more space. About 2,100 of those attendees would camp in a tent city which would nearly double the population of Byers.

The Arapahoe County Zoning Administrator notified Riot Fest Corp./Soda Jerk productions of the decision on Friday. They said the decision to deny the permit is based upon traffic impacts and public safety concerns that would "adversely impact surrounding property owners."

RELATED: Riot Fest Gets Loud Pushback From Community

The decision on whether to issue the permit happened after a public meeting on July 1 where more than 200 people attended to express their concerns with the music venue that also included carnival rides, food and merchant booths. A small number of those in attendance supported the event.

Riot Fest meeting
Hundreds packed a meeting to discuss Riot Fest near Byers (credit: CBS)

At that meeting, residents claim that last year's festival had an adverse impact, including damaged property and businesses and brought an unwelcome element to town. They lined up to make their case at the podium in front of the commissioners.

A portion of the denial letter reads: "While the applicant has provided some ideas on measures that would mitigate the impacts of the traffic and parking and improve the traffic flow for the event proposed this year, based upon comments provided by the County's Engineering Division, it appears that the mitigation would only be partially successful, and that there would still be long lines of cars down the access corridors to May Farms, including Highway 36 through the Town of Byers, and there would still be substantial congestion for extended periods during the duration of the event, as the roadway infrastructure in the area is not designed nor capable of handling such volumes."

The denial letter also addresses public safety concerns: "Due to the amount of traffic congestion from Riot Fest, emergency service providers would not be able to serve the residents of Byers, the surrounding areas, or the attendees of Riot Fest on a timely basis," according to the denial letter. "In addition, the congestion and configuration of the event parking/camping would result in pedestrian/vehicle conflicts along Bradbury Road and I-70. In the case of a disaster at Riot Fest, the ability to evacuate the site quickly would be impaired by the limited access and the existing roadway infrastructure and network."

The decision by Zoning Administrator is appeal-able to the Arapahoe County Board of Adjustment. In order to appeal, the applicant must notify the Zoning Administrator within 10 calendar days of the decision.

On Riot Fest's Facebook page, the organization maintains the event is not cancelled, and that they will just move to a different location.

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