Ticket software company TicketNetwork hopes to launch its own summer concert series, but the project is facing rigorous opposition from some locals. The proposed venue site is located on nine acres of commercially zoned forest near company headquarters in Vernon, CT, a suburb of Hartford located just off Interstate 84.
The open-air TicketNetwork Forest, as the seasonal project has been named, would host 20 rock and country concerts per season with lawn seating for nearly 2,000 people. At the end of the venue’s May-to-October season, the site would be completely deconstructed and returned to its natural forest state, according to the official TicketNetwork Forest Web site.
The project already received the unanimous approval of the Vernon Inland Wetlands Commission, as well as the support of the Town Planner and Traffic Authority. However, public meetings of the Planning & Zoning Commission have been increasingly rocky as area proponents and opponents clash.
On February 4, a couple hundred Vernon residents gathered at the town’s Senior Center for a special meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission to discuss the matter. Several news crews from the greater Hartford area were there to cover the event, as residents read statements of their opinion for public record.
“The thought of an outdoor concert venue basically in my front yard frightens me,” longtime Vernon resident Janice Allen said during the Thursday evening hearing, which ran just over two hours.
Presentations like Allen’s often drew loud applause from fellow opponents, wearing white to show solidarity and organized under the banner of Vernon Citizens for Responsible Development. But other residents represented a more middle-of-the-road approach to the venue during last night’s PZC proceedings.
In his statement, resident Jon Roe recommended a compromise that would give initial permission for the venue with the option to expand operations — meaning later concert times and a possible alcohol permit — after a year-end review.
“It will be much easier to grant new privileges than to take them away should the site prove to be a nuisance,” Roe concluded his statement during the February 4 PZC hearing.
Issues of noise, increased traffic and environmental impact have been primary concerns in the residential areas surrounding the proposed concert site. In a pre-meeting segment on local CBS syndicate WFSB, opposition member Sheryl McMullen stated, “It just feels like a very deadly combination — noise, traffic, alcohol, crime. I don’t see anything good about it.”
However, proponents of the project argue that it would bring more than 100 seasonal and full-time jobs to the region, as well as an approximate $60,000 per year in local revenue. TicketNetwork Forest would also double as a testing site for software programs that are currently in development.
“We want a win-win situation for the town, for the town’s folks and for us,” TicketNetwork CEO Don Vaccaro told WFSB’s reporter. “We think we have a plan that will accomplish that.”
The PZC will continue its review of TicketNetwork’s proposal in a meeting on February 18, though discussion is expected to extend beyond that.
TicketNetwork is the parent company of TicketNews.