Vernon Planning Board Denies Woodstock 50 Appeal

(Updated 12:45 am, July 17, 2019) The Poughkeepsie Journal is reporting that Woodstock has issued a statement regarding the denial of their appeal to the Town of Vernon Planning Board Tuesday night. The statement thanks the artists and Vernon Downs owner Jeff Gural for their support of the festival. Read the full statement below:

Woodstock 50 is disappointed that the Town of Vernon has passed up the opportunity to hold the historic 50th anniversary festival by denying our robust and thoughtful proposal. We regret that those in Vernon who supported Woodstock have been deprived of the once-in-a-lifetime chance to be part of the rebirth of a cultural peace movement that changed the world in 1969 and is what the world needs now. We want to thank the artists who stood by us. We are grateful for the support of Vernon Downs and its generous owner Jeffrey Gural.

The Town of Vernon Codes Department twice denied event applications filed by Woodstock 50 promoters last week to hold the anniversary concert over three days in August. Tuesday night Woodstock and Vernon Downs officials pleaded their case before the town’s planning board only to have their appeal unanimously denied 3-0 with two members not present.

Nearly 200 people packed the town hall for the meeting which saw passionate pleas both for and against Vernon Downs hosting the event Aug. 16-18.

Woodstock officials held “open house” meetings on Monday and Tuesday to allow citizens to get to know them and hear their plans for the festival.

Vernon Planning Board

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente and Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol have been vocally against the event being held with little time to prepare. Both released statements late Tuesday afternoon, just hours before the Planning Board meeting.

Picente said, “Currently with less than 30 days to go, their incompetence and misrepresentations are still front and center. They have consistently failed to provide traffic plans that scratch the surface of what would be necessary. They have yet to provide a parking plan that even begins to come close to tenable for the residents of Vernon.” Adding after the final decision, “I’m pleased with the decision of the Town of Vernon Planning Board to uphold the town codes officer’s decision denying Woodstock 50 a permit.”

Maciol’s statement said, “We should be talking about August of 2020 or 2021, not August of 2019. As the security plans were unveiled to us, I immediately developed serious concerns that I feel will jeopardize public safety.”

And while this decision seems to be the final nail in the Woodstock 50 coffin, promoter Michael Lang left open the possibility of it still occurring, telling, “There’s a crack. We’ll know more tomorrow,” while also saying they won’t take this decision to the courts.

Vernon Downs owner Jeff Gural, who has expressed interest in making the harness track a concert venue in order to remain financially viable, spoke bluntly at Tuesday’s meeting, pleading for the town to “take a chance” while also stating, “If we don’t get permission to do this, I’m not going to try again.”

Woodstock 50’s troubled path began when investors pulled out, causing Watkins Glen to terminate the permit.

NYS Music will update this story as it develops.

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