Sound check: Goochland Planning Commission balks at concert series move from Henrico

EventMakers-USA Inc. currently hosts the concerts at 4901 Lake Brook Drive in Innsbrook. (Photos courtesy Innsbrook After Hours)

A plan to move a summer concert series from a Henrico office park to Goochland is meeting resistance.

Members of the Goochland County Planning Commission last week recommended denying a conditional use permit for EventMakers-USA Inc., which is pondering a relocation of its Innsbrook After Hours series to West Creek.

The commission’s denial cited concerns about sound, traffic, parking and safety, according to the county.

EventMakers earlier this year began the process of potentially moving the series to West Creek after three decades in its namesake office park at 4901 Lake Brook Drive. The group zeroed in on a 5-acre site at 12575 W. Creek Parkway near the Richmond Strikers Field Complex.

The series’ current venue. (Michael Thompson)

The group filed an initial pre-application in July, which required it to conduct several reviews and studies, including a sound test from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. July 9 at the proposed site, said Jo Ann Hunter, Goochland County director of community development.

Conducted by Backstage VA, a Richmond-based audio and visual service company, the sound test played a variety of music almost continuously during the allotted time frame, according to a county staff report.

After each half-hour, the music was measured by a team of 10 county volunteers, with two placed in Henrico and the remaining eight in Goochland. They each were about 100 feet from where the soundboard would be placed during a concert to handle nearly 100 decibels of sound. The speaker system was mounted 10 to 20 feet above the ground facing east, which directed the sound between Hardywood West Creek and the Farm Bureau campus at 12580 W. Creek Parkway.

The results of the test were mixed, Hunter said, with some volunteers reporting the music in their area as being “loud and annoying,” or “barely audible.”

Criticism, praise for plan

More than 40 residents from both Henrico and Goochland counties voiced their concerns, or praise, for EventMakers’ plans during the planning commission meeting to move the concert series to West Creek. Those opposed said the site was ill-equipped to handle traffic and safety patrols, and the proposed location would cause nearby homeowners to take a hit on their property values. Those in favor of the move said the West Creek location was more open and suitable for such a venue.

Goochland officials also were concerned about traffic, parking and safety, according to a staff report, specifically Goochland Sheriff’s concerns that a concert could stretch the county’s ability to properly respond to 911 calls and other emergencies.

EventMakers executive producer Larry Creeger did not return a call for comment Monday afternoon.

This summer, Creeger said his group remained split on whether the concert series should remain in Innsbrook or move to West Creek by 2020.

The Innsbrook series’ current venue sits on land owned by Raleigh-based Highwoods Properties. It’s a major landlord in Innsbrook that has been part of recent efforts to modernize and diversify the office park with more mixed uses, along with enhancing parks, trails and gathering spaces throughout the 35-year-old complex.

That includes developing the existing site of the concert venue in Innsbrook, although Highwoods has been mute on when it plans to begin developing the 6-acre site.

Despite a recommendation of denial by the planning commission, the county’s Board of Supervisors will have the final say on EventMakers’ CUP during its Oct. 1 meeting.

Events with more than 1,501 people must apply for a CUP in Goochland, which gives the Board of Supervisors authority to tack on conditions, such as more emergency personnel, additional insurance and operating hours, to the permit.

The Innsbrook After Hours 2019 series continues, with three shows remaining on its schedule.

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Frank Smith
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Frank Smith

A poorly thought out test. They should be measuring the Sound Pressure Levels (SPL) from much further away, for example certified personnel should have been placed near the boundary with the residences.
Looks like proponents of the plan were caught by surprise with these results. Too bad, this scheme would have worked well.

Eric Vaughan
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Eric Vaughan

Labor Day weekend Hermitage CC had fireworks that sounded like they were in my subdivision. I live 3 miles away as the crow flies. Yes, I was annoyed but that’s just though. Others deserve to have fun too.
A quick glance seems to show less than 2 dozen IAH concerts this year. IMHO that doesn’t seem to be a lot.
Hardywood had planned an amphitheater across the street that got approved and I fail to see the difference.
SMH

Rick James
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Rick James

I agree. The main difference between fireworks and a concert is that the speakers for a concert are mounted 10-20 feet above ground and directed in one direction, versus 200 to 500 feet for the average firework. The sound from a firework will travel unimpeded by anything other than air for many miles, the concert sound will run in to trees, terrain, and very quickly.

Brett A Hunnicutt
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Brett A Hunnicutt

So they approved the development of West Creek but are afraid of traffic?
It’s so interesting that some people believe being close to entertainment will drive down their properties values, while others see great value in being able to walk to a concert.

Christine Taylor
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Christine Taylor

This is ridiculous. IAH would be much better in Goochland. It’s already crammed into a much more densely populated area. There is plenty of space here considering some of the parcels have been for sale for 20 years. There are already THOUSANDS of people working in Westcreek many of whom also attend IAH. We are talking about a few concerts a month during good weather. What’s your problem Goochland?