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Saturday, December 7, 2019

Top Stories > General

Music festival appeal thrown out by court

Dec 2, 2019

By Isabel Braverman - staff writer

By: MATT SHORTALL | DEMOCRAT
Those attending The Camping Trip music festival in July, 2018 were met by the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office blocking roads into the event. Festival organizer Ian Leifer had his legal case tossed by the New York State Court of Appeals last month. The court ruled Leifer's First Amendment rights were not violated but that he had violated the town's zoning code.
DELAWARE - A three-day music festival has been at the center of a legal battle between Ian Leifer and the Town of Delaware for well over a year.
That battle is drawing to a conclusion after the New York State Court of Appeals tossed a lawsuit in which Leifer argued his first amendment rights were violated.
Leifer held the music festival in 2016 on his property in Jeffersonville without obtaining special-use zoning permits from the town.
When leifer planned to hold the festival again in the summer of 2018, the town intervened and served an injunction, putting a stop to the festival.
With tickets already sold, festival goers who arrived at the festival site were met with the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office, who had blocked roads leading into the property.
That's when Leifer sued the town, claiming their actions violated his First Amendment rights.

That case was tossed by the New York State Supreme Court and Leifer then appealed to the State of New York Court of Appeals.
On November 21, the judge ruled in favor of the town, saying the music festival violated the town's zoning code.
The ruling states, “In this appeal, a landowner challenges the constitutionality of zoning laws that preclude him from holding a three-day music and camping festival on his rural property in the Town of Delaware. Because the challenged provisions do not unconstitutionally restrict the property owner's First Amendment rights and are not void for vagueness, we affirm the Appellate Division order affirming a Supreme Court judgment enjoining the event.”
Leifer, who owns the 68-acre property containing a single-family home and undeveloped lan had been hosting “The Camping Trip,” as the festival was known, in 2016 over the course of an August weekend. He had held the festival twice before in previous years.
The event was advertised online as a celebration of Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, during which attendees would camp on the property and view live outdoor music performances before and after Shabbat, which extends from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
Attendees could either bring their own camping gear or purchase a “Tent-Building Pass,” permitting them to use a tent assembled by the event organizer. Meals would be provided at the site through food truck vendors and a religious nonprofit organization would lead in Jewish religious ceremonies.
Indicative of the scale of the 2016 event, preparations included off-site parking at a local school and rental of shuttle buses to transport attendees to the event site, a party tent for inclement weather, security at both the parking lot and event, $2 million event insurance, 16 portable toilets, a 30-cubic-yard dumpster, EMTs on site and an ambulance on standby.
At the time, Leifer asserted that the event was a private party, not a music festival. The event in 2017 attracted around 400 people.
The town alleged that the event was prohibited under the town's zoning laws in the Rural District, which Leifer's property is in.
Further, the town allows for individuals to apply for a zoning variance or amendment to use their property in a manner not authorized in the zoning law. They would need to apply to the Planning Board for permission, but Leifer did not do so.

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