A music festival that brings Philadelphia bands and fans annually to Belgrade has prompted the town to consider regulating big crowds.

A mass gathering ordinance is up for a vote on Saturday, March 20, along with candidates for municipal office and other items.

The business portion of the annual Town Meeting follows on March 21.

The Planning Board worked with Kennebec Valley Council of Government’s Planning Director Chris Huck to prepare the proposed ordinance.

“We tried to have this not target any one thing,” said Peter Rushton, chairman of the Belgrade Planning Board.

However, the board was asked to prepare it in response to complaints about the noise generated by a three-day music festival that takes place off Sahagian Road, in Belgrade Village, according to Town Manager Greg Gill.

“When it first started several years ago, they had a couple bands which played for a couple hours and that was it,” he said. “Now there are a number of bands, and they’re charging admission. We wanted some way to regulate that. People were moving away from their homes for two days because they couldn’t sleep.”

The proposed ordinance, which would take effect immediately if approved at the polls, regulates gatherings of 300 people or more for an hour or more, but provides exceptions for municipal and school events. It prohibits mass gatherings between midnight and 8 a.m.

It would apply to “festivals, concerts, exhibitions, social gatherings, meetings, and entertainment,” and requires an application fee of $200, a performance bond, detailed plans, abutter notification, proof of insurance, and a host of other things.

Seven copies of the application are to be submitted at least 90 days prior to the event, a public hearing follows, and the selectboard votes on whether to approve it.

The full ordinance is posted on the town’s website at www.townofbelgrade.com.

According to information on Facebook, the music festival, known as Caravan, is organized by Matt Manser and held at a quarry on property his family has owned since the 1970s. The first festival was held in 2009.

This year, according to its Facebook page, it is set to begin 9 p.m. July 30. Information about previous festivals says the admission fee — paid online — pays for portable toilets, food, water, cleanup, etc., and that the bands play for free.

The gathering site, 65 Bluebird Drive, is owned by the Manser family. A phone message left for Matt Manser at a Philadelphia phone number was not returned Friday.

Rushton said the comments on the proposed ordinance came from neighbors of the property. No one commented on the proposal at a Feb. 17 public hearing by the selectboard.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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