SEGUIN, Texas - The Guadalupe County Commissioners Court voted Thursday at a special meeting to deny a permit for a sixth annual Float Fest music festival.
- Permit for 2019 Float Fest denied
- Road impact cited as primary reason for denial
- Other concerns include noise, profanity and river impact
The majority of the court ruled against the Float Fest permit for 25,000 attendees after 3 1/2 hours of discussion. Ultimately, the impact on the roads around the Cool River Ranch where Float Fest is held were the deciding factor.
"I'm concerned about 25,000 people just because the shear number of that many people in that small area but really the decision was made on the congestion and the road limitations," County Judge Kyle Kutscher said.
Kutscher said leading to the festival entrance gates is a two-lane county road with a 40-foot right of way.
"The main reason for denying the permit is based on the substantial congestion and disruption of activity, the limitations of the right of way and roadway and the considerable amount of traffic that's out there at that event," Kutscher said.
According to the Texas Statute Section 2101.104, a permit can be denied for one of seven reasons. The commissioners denied it based on the fifth reason: "The commissioners court shall grant a permit application filed under Section 2104.101 unless, by a majority vote, the court finds, from a preponderance of the evidence presented at the hearing, that: (5) the times of the festival and the festival location create a substantial danger of congestion and disruption of other lawful activities in the immediate vicinity of the festival."
"What is going to be too much for the road to handle? And I think a majority of the court feels like we've already met that threshold," Kutscher said.
About 10 community members spoke with various complaints about Float Fest, from being disturbed by the loud music and hearing profanity in the songs, to being concerned about the river. Part of the draw of Float Fest is the ability to drink and float down the San Marcos River as part of the festival.
"We are not getting any benefit as a taxpayer in Guadalupe County," Martindale council member Mike McClabb said. "I do pay county taxes and I pay for that road and I use that road. You're destroying the road. It's really a marginal road to start with. Really, there's no benefit for the locals,"
McClabb questioned how many people Float Fest promoter Marcus Federman is looking to expand to in the future. Federman said he's happy with 25,000 - 30,000 attendees. He said he thinks the Cool River Ranch can safely hold at least 35,000, but he believes the festival has reached its peak.
"There has to be a limit of how many people," McClabb said. "I'm hearing the traffic controls, people get backed up. The road can't handle it."
Kutscher said short of expanding the roadway or doubling the right of way in size, what's difficult is handling the number of people that go to this type of event. There are no plans for the county to expand the roadway.
"Honestly, I think the county taxpayers would not like the fact that a considerable amount of money would be spent to go widen a road just to fund an event promoter making a considerable amount of money off of a single event for one weekend out of the year," Kutscher said.
Since being denied, Federman will likely appeal through a court filing or a lawsuit in district court.
"There's a few provisions laid out in the statute that guide the court on the decision, but also give guidance to the applicant as far as an appeal process. The appeal process would be a court filing or a lawsuit in district court. That's what happened in previous years when the permit was denied," Kutscher said.
In 2018, Guadalupe County commissioners denied a permit requesting 30,000 attendees. Federman filed a lawsuit in March to appeal that decision. The commissioners settled on a compromise of 20,000 attendees.
"We know a lot of money is at stake for a promoter. A lot of people come to this festival and think that it's a good thing," Kutscher said. "The problem is they're not people from our county. The people that live around that area are negatively impacted by all of the loud music as they stated, profanity, and traffic congestion, and trespassers and people on the river. It really is, in their terms, chaotic for a number of days."