At a special called meeting Feb. 15, the Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to purchase the 1.05-acre parcel located at 3399 Soco Road. The town will pay $185,000 to the Hobby Family Liquidating Trust and the tax value of the land is $214,500. The trust will pay property taxes for 2019 and 2020 and the town will pay title insurance and surveying costs.
The property is located directly across Soco Road from the festival grounds and will be used as public parking and as parking for the festival grounds. The lot is currently vacant and was previously home to the Sweet Briar Motel, which was demolished several years ago. For the last several years the lot has been used as auxiliary for the town and people attending festival ground events.
“I don't think you're going to see any huge changes to that in the short term, once we formally acquire the property, but I think long term, the town's plans would to be maximize that area for a true parking lot, which would mean asphalt surface upgrades, landscape upgrades, et cetera,” said Maggie Valley Town manager Nathan Clark.
At the regular scheduled board meeting Feb. 9, the board approved purchasing a 20-foot gate to be installed along the western side of the grounds for $3,374 from Asheville Fence.
Adding a gate at the western side of the grounds opens up another location for guests to enter and exit the festival grounds. According to Clark, there had been interest from event promoters to offer more ingress and egress to the western side, allowing people to come and go in a more socially distanced manner. Clark said the town also decided to put up the fence because it would help make the festival grounds safer.
Additionally, the town board voted to change a section of the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds rules and procedures regarding noise. The town’s noise ordinance did not change, and has remained the same since 2012. The festival grounds are exempt from the town noise ordinance and follow its own set of rules and procedures laid out by the town.
Previously, the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds Rules and Procedures stated that all amplified noise must end by 11 p.m. The new rule, approved unanimously, states that all amplified noise must end by 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Historically, the festival grounds had been used for events Thursday through Sunday afternoon. However, with social distancing affecting the entertainment industry in 2020, Maggie Valley Festival Grounds became host to several drive-in concerts last year. Though most of those concerts took place on weekends, some took place mid-week.
“I just wanted to make that change to be sensitive for those that are working, trying to get to school, 11 o'clock on Sunday through Thursday nights can be a little bit late to be rocking out with live music and just want to be more respectful and consider the people that are adjacent or in earshot of the grounds and lower that down a little bit and to have that 10 o'clock cutoff be the new time,” said Clark.
According to Clark this change did not come in response to any significant amount of pushback from the public about late night, amplified music.
“This is just something that we noticed,” said Clark. “The festival grounds is changing, this was a change that we saw and we saw a lot of potential in what the Gray Eagle has brought to us. But then also at the same time we wanted to change our rules and procedures to account for those changes that were, good change.”