Blue Ridge Rock Festival approved, could see attendance of 160,000
CHATHAM, Va. — Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors Tuesday night unanimously approved a permit for the Blue Ridge Rock Festival to take place Sept. 9-12, 2021, at White Oak Amphitheater in Blairs.
Four concerned citizens declared their final words of protest before the supervisors took the matter to a vote.
“We have no issues at all with the amphitheater, it's not not appropriate for Lester Lane,” said Tony Dix, Blairs resident of 16 years. White Oak Amphitheater is located at 599 Lester Ln. “The neighbors and I no not want this activity right up against our residences.”
Fellow Lester Lane resident Avery Cox is a father of three and first responder in the City of Danville. He lives in the second house down Lester Lane.
“One of the major concerns for myself is my small children. They’re in the front yard, they’re in the backyard,” he said. “With all that traffic coming down our road, that will present a problem for us. How are we going to avoid unwelcome guests on our property? There are a lot of unanswered questions still and that’s unfair to myself living on the road.”
Because of his job as a first responder, Cox frequently needs to respond to emergencies in Danville at the drop of a hat.
Although he would go on to second the motion approving the festival, Supervisor Joe Davis (Dan River) said, “I am concerned about that gentleman’s ability to get in and out.”
Supervisor Vic Ingram (Tunstall) has been an avid supporter of the Blue Ridge Rock Festival since Purpose Driven Events first eyed Pittsylvania County for its large-scale music venue.
“If we deprive Purpose Driven Events of the ability to come here, we might as well turn the lights out and go home,” Ingram said. “It’s not my kind of music, but I support it. It’s a great opportunity for this county...people coming all over the world to our county.”
In her final remarks, Pittsylvania County Community Development Director Emily Ragsdale noted a couple of contingencies to the board’s eventual approval.
“All of the required plans have been submitted and reviewed by staff except the traffic plan,” she said. VDOT and Virginia State Police did not feel the necessary changes were major enough to halt approval on the night of July 20, however.
At the motion of Supervisor Ingram, the board of supervisors approved the Blue Ridge Rock Festival by a 7-0 vote. The festival will be held in Blairs Sept. 9-12, 2021, and is expected to see 40,000 attendees per day over the four days. Of those, as many as 26,000 will be on-site campers.
County raises meals tax by 5-2 vote, implements new occupancy tax
Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors Tuesday night voted 5-2 to approve an increase in the county’s food and beverage tax from 4 percent to 6 percent, and voted unanimously to implement a new 4 percent transient occupancy tax in the county.
Wayne Robertson, a Chatham-Blairs resident, addressed the board with his concerns.
“I really think you need to do something different,” Robertson said. “I am against your increase in tax. The way I see it, you really spend too much money. With reassessment, an increase in meals tax would be an extra burden on the citizens of Pittsylvania County.”
Supervisor Vic Ingram (Tunstall) agreed with Robertson, calling a meal out “a simple luxury.”
“I wouldn’t want to make it difficult for a family to eat out on a Friday or Saturday night, so I’m going to vote against it,” Ingram said.
Both Ingram and Ben Farmer (Callands-Gretna) voted against the 2 percent increase.
“You need to leave this alone,” Robertson said. “This is really, really important, especially with inflation these days. It’s getting to be too much.”
Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Warren (Chatham-Blairs) explained why he was voting “yes” on the tax hike.
“I hate tax increases, but it’s time to look for other alternatives,” Warren said. “As folks are transitioning through our county, they buy quite a few meals. You’d be shocked. They can help offset some of our expenses.”
Supervisor Ron Scearce (Westover) echoed Warren’s position.
“We’re hoping to come up with some different taxes instead of putting the burden on our property owners,” Scearce said. “I hope people realize what we’re trying to do. I think in the long run people will appreciate that.”
The increased meals tax is projected to generate an additional $400,000 per annum.
After passing the tax hike by a 5-7 vote, supervisors unanimously approved a new 4 percent transient occupancy tax, which applies to hotels, AirBnBs, campgrounds and other lodging facilities. The county can collect 2 percent of that tax, and the rest will be used for tourism. A future meeting will determine how the remaining 2 percent will be distributed.