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NEWBERRY ‒ On Sept. 23, the City of Newberry Planning and Zoning Board heard a request for a Special Permit for a Temporary Use (STUP) to allow a one-time outdoor concert. Subsequently, they unanimously recommended approval.

The STUP, which is allowed by the City’s Land Development Regulations, was heard again in a quasi-judicial public hearing on Sept. 28, by the City Commission and, once again, received unanimous approval.

The presentation was made by Planning and Economic Development Director Bryan Thomas. However, Phil Benito, the concert promoter, was on hand to answer questions.

Billed as The Sister Hazel Drive-In Concert Series, the event is scheduled for Oct. 23, on property approximately 216 acres in size, which is owned by Pat Post. However, the concert and parking will take place on only nine acres of that property, which is located near the Alachua County/Gilchrist County line at 28957 W Newberry Rd., Newberry.

Benito said he anticipates parking 500 cars on the property with no more than six people in each vehicle. Each ticket is for four people in one vehicle. Security will check pre-paid tickets for the fifth or sixth additional person. Anyone under 18 years of age with a parent or guardian can attend. Parking of cars is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. with the concert beginning at 7:30 and ending by 10:30 p.m., which should pose little problem with noise.

Social distancing will be observed and each vehicle will have three spaces; one to park on, one to sit on with their own chairs, and a third one for distance between people. Benito said two local food trucks will provide food and drinks, but alcohol will not be sold at the event. In addition, no fires or overnight camping will be allowed. However, coolers will be allowed.

Anyone leaving their area to go to the restroom or to the food trucks will be required to wear a mask or some type of face covering. Restrooms will be monitored. VIP tickets ($169 plus fees/taxes) and will be lined in the first few rows of parking, while general admission tickets ($149 plus fees/taxes) will be behind this area and will be parked on a first come, first served basis with parking attendants directing where vehicles can be parked. Large trucks and oversized cars will be put off to the sides/back rows so they do not block views for attendees. No RVs or party bus parking is allowed.

Tickets, a map, directions to the location and all the pertinent information regarding this event can be found at https://www.eventliveus.com/event/sister-hazel-drive-in-series-.

Thomas said that the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office will provide security and will be on hand in various locations throughout the venue.

With no public comments or questions and all Commissioners’ questions answered, the application was easily approved.

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