Ogdensburg Riverfest stalled again due to city noise ordinance
Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 9:48 am

By JIMMY LAWTON
 North Country This Week

OGDENSBURG – A city sound ordinance has thrown another wrench into plans to hold OG Riverfest, a music festival that hopes to bring a national musical act to Ogdensburg.

Ogdensburg Police Chief Andrew M. Kennedy has denied Everything 4 Entertainment’s registration of sound amplifying equipment, because the application did not include information on expected sound levels generated from the concert.

Local bar owner and co-owner of Everything 4 Entertainment Joe Howe said he had no way to determine whether or not the festival, which is expected to draw as many as 5,000 people and feature a national act, would exceed the city’s sound ordinance limit.

Bands and artists considered for the festival include Bob Seger, Duran Duran, Alanis Morissette or the Doobie Brothers.

He said every band is different and it’s possible under the right conditions that the gathering of 5,000 people alone could exceed allowable levels.

Howe attended the Monday meeting seeking a waiver from the city that would allow him to proceed, but city council said they could not circumvent the law.

City manager Sarah Purdy told Howe that even if the city council granted his appeal, the law would still stand.

But following the meeting, Purdy clarified that the city could change the law or charter in a manner that would allow a permitting process or waiver. However, she said such a process would take time and would likely not be completed in time for Howe’s July date.

In past interviews, Howe acknowledged that he already may have to push the concert until 2020, due to the various hoops he’s had to jump through to meet the city’s requirements.

Howe is entitled to a public hearing regarding the denial of his registration and requested the city schedule it, despite the claim they could not overrule the law.

He said he wants to gauge the interest and find out how many people support or oppose him holding the concert within the city limits.

Howe has been working with the city for months trying to establish a variety of issues associated with holding the concert.

Mayor Wayne Ashley said the city council couldn’t allow one person to break the law, while others are bound to it.

However, following the meeting, Councilor Daniel Skamperle said he would like to begin the process of establishing a waiver for noise ordinances to help overcome this issue.

Purdy also agreed that the city should address the problem as it’s likely to rise in other situations, but added that doing so would likely require help from the zoning board of appeals.

City council could not answer whether or not other events such as Founder’s Day, the Battle of Ogdensburg or Seaway Festival already violated the city’s noise ordinances.

The public hearing on registering the sound equipment for the concert is set for May 28 at 7 p.m. at city hall.