Permits not issued for festival

Vernon. Mayor Harry Shortway said temporary activity permits will not be issued for proposed Hello Panda Festival at the former Camp Sussex until full compliance is met.

Oct 01 2019 | 01:43 PM

Vernon Township Mayor Harry Shortway said on Tuesday no activity permits have yet been granted for a proposed festival at the former Camp Sussex.

The camp, which is now owned by Glenwood Infinity, LLC, has been leased to Camp Plus Management Inc. has applied for a temporary activity permit for what is called the “Hello Panda Festival.”

A temporary structure is expected to house the light show and dance performances. The event is expected to feature food vendors, music and temporary signage.

According to the festival’s website, hellopandafest.com, dates are listed in Vernon as starting on Oct. 18 and taking place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Feb. 2, 2020.

“This seemed like an ambitious project from the beginning,” Vernon Township Business Administrator Charles G. Voelker said at the Monday, Sept. 23, Township Council meeting. “It has not progressed in the timeline they have set for themselves and one of the things we plan at our meeting (on Wednesday, Sept. 25) is to give them strict timelines.

Shortway said the meeting did take place, but said on Tuesday that no temporary activity permits will be issued without full compliance.

Peg DiStasi of Silver Spruce Drive asked about the number of people expected to attend and how the light and noise pollution will affect Glenwood residents’ quality of life.

She wanted to know how it would affect wells that are already stretched thin, and with a location in a remote part of town, the self-contained event may have limited overflow.

Rumors throughout the township also suggested that hundreds of thousands of guests are expected to attend. Voelker said Camp Plus told township officials they were expecting 300-400 per night.

The group is also planning an event at Citi Field in Queens, from Dec. 6 until Jan. 26, 2020, and in Catskill, N.Y., starting Oct. 25 and running until March 22, 2020.

Photos on the festival’s website show a large bustling fair with large crowds.

“I think part of the confusion is they have a website, which talks about what they’re doing in other locations and if you see that picture they show on the website, it makes you think we’re going to have hundreds of thousands of people,” Voelker said.

While no permits have been issued yet on the festival, Shortway said in a Sept. 16 Facebook post that some permits have been issued.

Temporary electric service permits were issued for cabin rehabilitation, including the installation of two-hour rated sheetrock and satisfaction of fire prevention requirements.

The applicants are also working closely with the Sussex County Dept. of Health to ensure full compliance.

Shortway also said on Sept. 17 that should the project require any permanent structures and use changes in the future, would be required to go before the Land Use Board.

“I think part of the confusion is they have a website, which talks about what they’re doing in other locations and if you see that picture they show on the website, it makes you think we’re going to have hundreds of thousands of people."
Charles G. Voelker
Vernon Township Business Administrator