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Mass-gathering permit hearing will have encore performance

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

Travis County’s revised mass-gathering permit process is still learning to walk. At its regular voting session on Tuesday, the Commissioners Court held a public hearing on the permit application for Levitation, formerly known as Austin Psych Fest. It was only the second such hearing since the court adopted new guidelines in August. With still more than a month to go before the outdoor music and camping festival kicks off at Carson Creek Ranch on April 29, the organizers still have not submitted all of the necessary forms. However, the main sticking point on Tuesday came from two neighbors of the venue who expressed concerns about parking and traffic. As the court watched from the dais, those neighbors held a mini-charrette with Scott Davidson of Code 4 Event Management, the firm handling Levitation’s mass-gathering permit. Noting that those negotiations could be held in private, County Judge Sarah Eckhardt offered to postpone a decision on the permit for a week. Hours after the hearing, Davidson told the Austin Monitor that he and the neighbors had smoothed over any outstanding differences. Still unresolved, however, is Levitation’s request for a variance on the new amplified-sound curfew guidelines set in the revised mass-gathering application. Davidson said the festival wants the court to extend the curfew in the secluded camping area from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. While members of the court peppered Davidson with questions about that request, none gave any obvious indication of how he or she felt about it. However, Eckhardt told Davidson, “I appreciate your willingness to be a guinea pig.”

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