MINOT — Selectmen got the message loud and clear at Monday’s board meeting: The noise generated by performers at this past weekend’s Great North Music and Arts Festival was too loud, went on way too long and four nights of it was just too much to put up with.
 
“Three o’clock in the morning. With or without an ordinance, shouldn’t common sense have come into play?” asked Patrick Coffren said. “How could they be allowed to disturb the whole town?”
 
Although the concert at Hemond’s Motorcross Park at 695 Woodman Hill Road was scheduled to run from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, the music began in earnest Thursday evening. According to some, it was still going strong somewhat after 4 a.m. Friday.
 
The explanation given was that “the bands needed practice,” park owner Mike Hemond said he was told.
 
According to anecdotal reports, the sound of festivities carried well into Auburn and even into Sabattus.
 
Chief Deputy William Gagne of the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office sent Town Administrator Arlan Saunders a preliminary report listing some 20 calls the county’s patrol division responded to, noting that the number didn’t include many others that came in simultaneously and went unrecorded. They also did not include those that went to the Auburn Police Department or Lewiston-Auburn 911.
 
Auburn Police Chief Phil Crowell also sent Saunders a note advising him of the impacts on Auburn residents
 
“Auburn residents experienced endless noise pollution (constant bass pounding) throughout the late evenings this past weekend,” Crowell wrote. “Some complaints were made as late as 2 a.m.”
 
Steve French, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said the board met twice with concert organizer John Hicks to discuss his plans and review the paperwork he was submitting to the state for a mass gathering. Selectmen found everything was in order for the board to sign off on his request to allow BYOB and to serve liquor.
 
“There was nothing we could say no to; the town doesn’t have a mass-gathering ordinance or a noise ordinance,” French said, “but I think that’s going to change.”
 
Every resident packing the Town Office meeting room Monday night agreed that there would have to be change. Several spoke of the frustration of being bombarded with unwanted noise well into the early hours, for four straight nights.
 
“What are we going to do to stop this 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning business?” one woman asked. 
 
Hemond, speaking for the Hemond family, said he was just as dismayed as anyone with the way things turned out.
 
“I want this to work here,” he said. “I am a community guy. We want this work; I’m not against regulation, just overregulation. I want this to succeed.”
 
Hemond said he would meet Tuesday with concert organizers to discuss what transpired. He said he wanted to hold a public meeting in about a month to begin figuring out what changes had to be made to make a possible future concert work for everyone.
 
Selectmen agreed this would be a good first step and that such a meeting with the Planning Board present would be the proper way to handle it. Ultimately, it would be the Planning Board’s responsibility to craft town ordinances to address mass-gathering and noise concerns.
 
Selectmen said the crowd, estimated at 7,000, according to Annette Hemond, behaved admirably and it appeared the concert had been well-run, with no security problems and was worth holding, except for the bother it caused a large part of the town.
 
Selectmen emphasized that the ordinances would have to have teeth. 
 
Selectman Dan Gilpatric suggested that a performance bond, with a charge of something on the order of $1,000 a minute for going past the set closing hour, might gain the attention of concert organizers.  

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