Scott County Commissioners on Tuesday tabled a decision on whether to revoke a permit for the Renaissance Festival but are expected to make a decision by March 7.
On Nov. 15, the county board discussed revoking the conditional use permit after hearing a number of concerns, particularly in regards to traffic. Staff members, surrounding businesses and several residents expressed their concerns.
Philip Kaplan, an attorney for Mid-America Festivals Corporation, which runs the event, said the Renaissance Festival CUP has been in compliance and that the county shouldn’t be allowed to revoke it.
“The county’s complaint is about short-term traffic and parking problems that do not violate the permit and can be solved or mitigated,” Kaplan said.
Issues regarding traffic have been discussed for a number of years, County Director of Planning and Resource Management Brad Davis said.
No decision yetAs with all CUPs, Davis said the one issued to the festival is binding — meaning the permit holder has to ask for the permit to be reopened before any changes can be made to it.
On Jan. 13, an application was submitted to reopen and amend the conditional use permit. Since last month, Davis said the permit holder has been providing the county with status updates, which include some of the proposals expected to be made.
Davis said that some of the proposals discussed by Mid-America include no longer advertising free on-site parking for the event. Going forward, under the proposal, patrons would have to pay $5 for a parking pass when a ticket is purchased and display the pass.
In addition, there would be a limit to the number of parking vouchers for the final three weeks of the festival, which historically have been the busiest. Davis said Mid-America also indicated that full time parking staff would be hired.
Mid-America is also looking to expand the number of patrons transported by public transportation. Davis said Mid-America indicated the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority can transport about 36,000 patrons per season and are looking at other bus services to transport up to 50,000 people.
During non-COVID years, there have been an average of 250,000 patrons. It was also proposed that the gates for onsite parking be opened earlier.
Next stepsThe public hearing slated for Feb. 21 will be in front of the county board instead of the planning commission since the issue has mostly been discussed with the board, Davis noted.
On Feb. 9, Louisville Township is expected to decide on a recommendation. Davis said the county board could make a decision on Feb. 21 or wait until March 7.
Commissioner Barb Weckman Brekke pointed out that if a decision isn’t made to amend the permit then the permit would continue to be in place unless the county commissioners take a vote to revoke it.