Oxford Fairgrounds lacking permits

NORWAY — State and local officials on Friday halted preparation work for the July 4 Nateva Festival at the Oxford Fairgrounds and sent organizers scrambling to ensure the show would go on as planned.

The three-day, multistage event put on by Nateva Festivals Inc. of Newton, Mass., is expected to draw thousands of people to the Oxford Fairgrounds off Route 26 from Friday, July 2, through Sunday, July 4, to hear bands including Further, Jakob Dylan and the Flaming Lips

On Friday, Maine Department of Environmental Protection “suggested” that workers stop clearing an area of the fairgrounds off Pottle Road until organizers get proper permitting, said Scott McGee of McGee Construction, project manager at the site.

The company has been clearing space for the past year for campers who will be staying throughout the weekend on the fairgrounds and for general spectator space.

“We had a little bit of groundwater get away from us,” McGee said Friday. “We've stopped working.”

Norway Building Inspector Jeff Van Decker said McGee Construction allowed storm water to flow into a nearby bog off Pottle Road, across from the entrance to the fairgrounds, without obtaining a storm-water permit.

The lack of a permit is in violation of DEP regulations and a town ordinance that requires the company to go before the Planning Board for a site plan review if earth is going to be moved under certain conditions.

Van Decker said the problem occurred when workers reshaped the property without the storm-water permits. Jeff Kalinich of the DEP, who inspected the violation, was not available Friday to comment on the situation.

“They need to do a little backpedaling,” said Van Decker who has sent a letter to the property owner he has on record — Black Bear Realty of Casco.

Construction company owner Steve McGee said he has hired a wetlands scientist and an engineer to ensure that the work proceeds without any complications.

While the construction company attempts to take care of the environmental issue, festival organizers were also informed Friday that they should have applied for an outdoor festival permit. About 15 acres of the 21-acre site under construction are in Norway. Six acres are in Oxford, according to Van Decker.

Under Norway's 2007 outdoor festival ordinance, organizers of events with 250 or more people must apply for a permit and pay a $100 application fee. Organizers in January obtained a similar permit from Oxford that allows up to 14,999 ticket sales for the event.

“This is all news to me,” Frank Chandler, principal owner of Nateva Festivals, said Friday.

Chandler stressed that Nateva is a “green” company. “We support the protective conveyances of the state. We expect any company (that works for a Nateva Festivals Inc. project) to act and respond in the same way.”

Chandler said that if he had been aware of the need for a permit from Norway he would have applied for it long ago.

Town Manager David Holt said Friday that town officials would try to work with organizers of the festival.

“We certainly intend to work with them to make sure that this gets straightened out. That's the approach we want to take,” Holt said after meeting with Suzanne Grover, president of the Oxford Fair, which is held at the fairgrounds. “We have no intention to shut this project down unless something else appears that we don't know about.”

Holt said organizers are working on a site plan and picked up an application for the mass-gathering permit Friday.

“We're going to try really hard to get it on the agenda for the next meeting,” Holt said. The ordinance requires a public hearing before the selectmen can issue the permit.

Selectmen were informed of the situation Thursday night. “I would be in favor of a cease and desist order,” board Chairman Bruce Cook said when he heard about the problems.

Chandler said he expected everything to be taken care of “quickly and efficiently” and that there was no concern about a delay affecting the concert schedule.


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Mike Wendell's picture


Dude, turn off the Cap Lock.  It's rude.  Maybe someone will listen to you for a change if you do.

Mike Wendell's picture

Age does things to one's mind

I guess many folks don't recall when they tried this back in 1988.  The Further is the most recent incarnation of the Grateful Dead. I guess folks don't remember.

Kathy Pickett's picture

Oxford County Fairgrounds ownership

I read with great interest the trials and tribulations of the Nateva Festival. The part that stuck out to me was that the owner of the property in question is listed as Black Bear Entertainment of Casco, the proposed Oxford County casino group. This is very intersting as being a resident of Oxford, I thought that the property was owned by the Oxford County Agricultural Society. Did a reality transfer take place selling off part of the Fairgrounds, or is this another seperate piece of property that Black Bear Entertainment LLC bought from another land owner. It just seems a little fishy that the property owner is listed as Black Bear with the Casino refrendum coming up for a vote. I would think that indeed if the Oxford County Agricultural Society did own the property a vote of the full OCAS membership would need to take place in order to transfer ownership. Did this happen and when? I think that OCAS should be allowed to rent their facility to whomever they want to do business with and make as much money as they can to operate the facility as an agricultural venue.I am in hopes that parts of  profit generated by the proceeds of the Nateva Festival will be going to OCAS to continue to fund their facility and the Oxford County Fair. I would be extremely disappointed to find out that slick manuverings by a few would result in the loss of such a historic venue.

 I wish Nateva good luck in getting the permitting process worked out and they can hold a successfully run event that the locally economy can profit from, especially the Oxford County Agricultural Society.

Robert Groetzinger's picture

Support Country or State

Very good attitude.You must be miserable.To wake up every day and think that you live in a Country/State with such inept people.

I for one am very proud of my Country and State.

ARMY DAD and proud of my son also. 


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