Dixon's Violin

Dixon’s Violin is shown performing on an Electric Forest stage last June.

ROTHBURY – The village council and Electric Forest have reached an agreement on a 10-year permit which would allow the music and arts festival within the village, including the Double JJ Ranch.

The new agreement replaces a three-year permit agreement the village and Electric Forest had after the Double JJ Resort annexed its property into the village. Previously the ranch was located in Grant Township, but the village provided law enforcement and liquor licenses through an Act 425 agreement.

The Rothbury Village Council approved the 10-year permit at a special meeting held November 4 in the village hall. Electric Forest Manager Jeremy Stein signed the permit the following day (November 5).

Not all of the seven council members voted for the permit which calls for a surcharge which would provide the village $6.50 per ticket sold in 2020, and increase 3.5% until it reaches a $7.50 cap.

“I think they (Electric Forest) are getting out too easy with the surcharge price,” trustee Bob Fulljames said.

Village President Scott Beishuizen does not like the length of the permit. “I think it’s too long of a term.”

The motion to approve the permit was made by trustee Autum Drake. The motion was supported by trustee Mike Harris.

Much of the nearly hour-long meeting included discussion among council members on how much to charge Electric Forest for the surcharge.

In the recent three-year permit agreement the surcharge was $6 per ticket sold.

In the new 10-year permit Drake calculated the starting $6.50 per ticket surcharge would net the village $260,000 based on a 40,000 attendance. The $7.50 cap, when reached, would give the village $300,000.

The new permit would limit Electric Forest to just one multi-day festival per year where the township’s mass gathering ordinance approved in 2016 would allow three mass gatherings a year.

The permit sets the four-day Electric Forest dates for the next 10 years, beginning with 2020 dates of June 25-28. The festival will operate Thursday to Sunday each year, on approximately the same week of June. The permit will allow early entry into the festival beginning with the Tuesday preceding the Thursday start.

The new permit will allow Electric Forest to have amplified music sound from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Sunday.

Previously amplified music wasn’t allowed after 2 a.m., but Fulljames said it regularly went to 4 a.m. on festival grounds not located in the village.

The agreed upon permit will also limit the number of attendance to 50,000.

The November 4 special meeting began with city attorney Matt Mills of Parmenter law firm updating the council on the permit negotiations with Jeremy Stein who represents Electric Forest.

Electric Forest had submitted an application for a mass gathering permit on October 10.

Mills said Stein sent some suggested changes to the permit from the language earlier approved by the council. Stein asked for a $7.50 cap on the surcharge, and agreed the village can make amendments to the mass gathering ordinance as long as they don’t defeat the purpose of the permit.

Stein also wanted to limit the fine for material violations of the permit to $1,000.

The Electric Forest festival has a major economic impact on the area.

At a September 10 special council meeting to discuss the permit, Kirby Schoen, manager of the Double JJ Resort, said the resort employs about 225 year-around workers. According to the meeting minutes, Schoen explained that Madison House, which organizes Electric Forest, presents 4,000 events each year.

Double JJ Resort attorney James Rose, at the village council’s August 13 meeting, said Madison House plans a potential $3 million investment in infrastructure on the resort property.