WATERVILLE, Ohio — Monday night, the city of Waterville held a special planning commission meeting to discuss the possibility of an amphitheater in the town. The city had to move the meeting to the primary school to accommodate the large number of people in attendance at the original meeting Aug. 1.
The meeting was animated, featuring repeated outbursts from crowd members who opposed the amphitheater. The outdoor music venue's developers Hunter Brucks, Chris Campbell and John Henry faced heavy criticism, with calls to "get out".
"We have a right to a peaceful home," resident Steven Timms said during the public comment period.
Timms believes the outdoor music venue would be a violation of the city's constitution which guarantees citizens the right to a peaceful home.
"It's clear that noise will, or it's assumed from other venue experiences, other amphitheaters that the sound will travel over a mile, out to two miles," Timms said. "We're very concerned about the safety and the peace of our community."
In their presentation, developers said the venue would be designed to mitigate some of residents concerns, including trees to absorb sound, and expanding lanes to create a better traffic flow. Brucks also said events would only be seasonal, running Thursday through Sunday, and wrapping up by 10:30 p.m. each night. But not everyone is convinced.
"I don't believe anything they said. They're going to plant trees, and trees are going to mitigate sound? I don't think so," resident Lyn Cox said.
Cox hopes the large crowd influences the city's decision and that the meetings aren't merely a formality.
"I hope it's not a done deal," Cox said. "And I hope they take our opinions into consideration and that this meeting isn't just moot."
Before the meeting, a group at nearby Waterville United Methodist Church held a prayer circle. The church's pastor says they don't have a stance, but they are praying for peace in the debate.
"Our community is going through a lot right now and the amphitheater is a big concern for all of our residents," Pastor Teresa Wenrick said. "We don't always have a voice in the council meetings or any of that sort, but we do have a voice to our lord and savior Jesus Christ. We decided that the best thing we could do is come together in prayer."
The proposed venue in Waterville would hold more than 9,000 seats. For comparison, Centennial Terrace in Sylvania holds approximately 3,500 people. Other venues include Pine Knob, outside Detroit, hold 15,000 people, and Blossom Music Center in Cleveland holds as many as 23,000 people.
The city must hold more readings of the proposal before deciding its future. The next city council meeting is scheduled for September 11 at 6:00 p.m.