While a conditional use permit for the property at 6025 E. First St. in rural Newton (also known as Walton's Recreational Park) came before the Harvey County Commission for consideration last week, no action was taken — as the governing body had hoped to hear from the applicants before making a final decision.
Given a recent death in the family of the applicants (Brenda Walton and Roy Walton Workman), the commission decided to table consideration of the permit until this week.
Following multiple, unsuccessful attempts to make contact with the applicants by Harvey County Planning and Zoning Director Gina Bell, the commission followed through with the staff recommendation — denying the conditional permit at the current time.
Communication with Walton and Workman has been intermittent since a social media post cancelling the first of three planned music festivals at the property — the reason for the permit request — and that was a big part behind the commission's denial of the permit, having wanted to hear more from the applicants about the events.
No parties spoke against or in favor of the permit when it initially was brought before the commission, though it was noted several letters of protest were received from neighboring property owners — listing noise, trash and safety concerns regarding the festivals. Still, Bell and the planning and zoning board were recommending approval of the permit initially — and still would be open to consideration of facilitating such events in the future.
"I do think overall this is a good idea for anywhere we can find it in Harvey County," Bell said. "He's (Workman) always welcome to come back and try it again when he's ready."
Renovations have been going on to Walton's Recreational Park over the past several months to prepare for the festivals, and Workman said it is his intent to try for the permit again. The recent death in the family ultimately led Workman to cancel the first festival, but he admitted he is hoping to still pursue hosting a country music festival in early June and rescheduling the first (Roaring Thunder Rock Fest) for some time in August.
Organization, it was agreed, would be key to hosting such an event — with Bell and commissioners hoping to see some more information before a festival is hosted at the property. While the permit was denied for the time being, the door was not shut on consideration of the application at a later date.