The term “Just ain’t right” is used to describe some of the hysterical humorous actions of a character played by one of Branson’s funniest men, Jarrett Dougherty, in the popular Branson show “Pierce Arrow.” Those words came to mind as the Ole Seagull reviewed the appeal of the City of Branson’s denial of a Special Event Permit Application for a “Nelly Concert” sponsored by “Paul Dunn” at the “Grand Palace (Rear Parking Lot).”
In the city’s denial of the application they said, “The City of Branson has concerns regarding the effect of a large concert in this area” because of, among other things, “the Parking lot is not designed for large outdoor concerts.” There were some who tried, and will probably still try, to make more out of it than it was and is, but at the end of the day whether the concert was by Nelly, Carrie Underwood or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, putting six thousand people, or more, in a parking lot in the middle of a developed area not zoned or designed for large outdoor concerts just ain’t right.
Even more basic, is the precedent of substantially expanding the scope of what a “Special Event Permit” can be used for. Historically “Special Events,” no pun intended, covered events such as “Plumb Nellie Days” types of events; parades or other Special Events such as a Cinco de Mayo, Festivals, Church and charity events etc.
This case would establish the precedent of letting a business already required to operate under a “Special Use Permit” do basically the same thing under a “Special Event Permit” when it hasn’t even met the requirements and conditions to operate under the “Special Use Permit.” Dunn applied for and was given a “Special Use Permit” to conduct “shows and productions” inside the Grand Palace providing he met certain conditions. By granting a “Special Event Permit” it will allow Dunn to do the very same thing, except outside and with more people, without ever being in compliance with the “Special Use Permit.” It just ain’t right.
The precedent, once established, could be used by Dunn to continue to use the Special Event Permit process to continue to operate an amphitheatre on the parking lot. What’s to keep him from coming back and getting another one for two weeks from now and two weeks after that as he brings in different acts or from renting it out to others for the same thing? Once established, what’s to stop other people from using the precedent to apply for a “Special Event Permit” to conduct similar “events” around town in any commercial parking lot or piece of land they deem big enough for the size of the audience they want?” It just ain’t right.
The cover letter for the appeal says, “The City has made it Public of your intent to help us so Im asking at this point to do just that” and “The advantage to being outdoors is more people and more money generated for business in the city of Branson.” What the city actually said on July 8 was that the city was “willing to work closely with Mr. Dunn to meet the building codes so he can open the theater by August 21 for the Nelly concert to be held inside. The city did not set the date the concert or, more importantly, after knowing there was a problem, begin to sell tickets for an event that the person selling the tickets has no approval to hold. It just ain’t right.
“Seagull, do you think that they are trying to pressure the city into giving them the Special Event Permit?” Surely that’s a rhetorical question.
“To paraphrase the letter, “The advantage to the applicant complying with requirements of the ‘Special Use Permit’ and opening the Grand Palace back up indoors is more people and more money generated for the businesses of Branson.” Now this is Ole Seagull math, but what will generate more money for the city and its businesses, one outdoor concert of 6,000, seven indoor at 1,000 or 22 indoor at 300?
“But Seagull, we have to treat everyone the same?” Exactly, and, to the best of an Ole Seagull’s knowledge, at least in recent years, there has never been a “Special Event Permit” that has been granted like this one. Why establish the precedent now under these circumstances? It “just ain’t right.” “But Seagull, isn’t this just the same as granting a ‘Special Event Permit’ for BransonFest?” You just ain’t right.
Note: The appeal is scheduled to be heard at the next Board of Alderman Meeting on July 27.
Related Opinion: Nelly – an example of the diversity and quality of Branson entertainment