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The City of Oklahoma City proposes new controls on noise coming from the private park


Roger Skeen is confused by his city’s actions as they consider changes to a Planned Unit Development just approved April 11.

He thought the City of Oklahoma City was all a large number of concerts at his Lost Lakes Adventure Park.

“…they kept coming back to talking about music festivals, music festivals, music festivals,” Skeen told Free Press Tuesday about his many meetings with city staff.

And so, he and his co-owner son, Garrett Skeen, have been holding regular concerts at the outdoor recreation and concert venue listed at 5000 NE 23rd St. The front gate on NE 10th is just 4 miles from downtown Oklahoma City.

But, the neighbors are complaining about the noise of concerts and the city is responding.

Roger Skeen seemed frustrated, saying that he and Garrett have encouraged the city to let them know if there are any noise problems.

“We have not received any complaints. We haven’t had the police out one time,” Skeen said. “We understand that someone is calling Mr. Pettis.”

“But, someone calling somebody and  saying it’s loud – it’s hard to defend that.”

Ward 7 Councilman John Pettis represents that part of the city.

The proposal introduced to the council Tuesday would hold Lost Lakes to three concerts per year on Fridays, Saturdays and legal holidays only, shutting down at 11 p.m.

This leaves some big plans up in the air.

The Skeens are preparing Lost Lakes for a national gathering of “Juggalos,” fans of the rap group ICP or Insane Clown Posse.

It is scheduled for July 26 – 29, 2017, Thursday through Sunday.

The group’s website promoting the event calls Lost Lakes a “DOPE new location.” Estimates from past annual gatherings are that 8,000 could attend.

Will they still be able to hold the concert? That question is yet to be answered.

Problems

The problem for the Skeens and the city is that neighbors just to the west of the main part of the development are starting to complain in progressively larger numbers.

As of Tuesday’s council meeting, the city is considering amending a Planned Unit Development that was just adopted by unanimous vote at the city council meeting April 11 after the Planning Commission unanimously recommended it.

City spokesperson Kristy Yager said that next, staff will go through another process of sending notices to neighbors informing them of the 20 days they have to comment on the new proposed ordinance.

The same process was carried out before the last ordinance change that came along with the PUD adjustment and was approved by the council in April.

The only protest then was not about noise, but whether paint balls from a proposed paint ball course would land on neighbors’ properties.

After the 20 days is up and staff have prepared a report, the proposal will go before the Planning Commission. If the Planning Commission approves, the measure will return to the council for action.

Different narratives

“It’s not like we just hair-brained this idea and said let’s create some havoc,” said Skeen. He said the city has encouraged them to have more concerts.

“Pettis is talking about de-zoning our property after we’ve had everything approved. We don’t want to de-zone it.”

He said in 2015 city staff had started talking to them about expanding their operation to a portion of the land on both sides of the Oklahoma River nearby.

It is owned by the city and administered by the Oklahoma City Riverfront Development Authority.

According to Skeen, city staff from Parks and Recreation were eager to have him expand his operation.

“They brought it to us,” said Skeen. “In the meetings with Marsha Harrod and David Burch they were real cordial, nice people. Great to work with. But they always kept coming back to music festivals, music festivals, music festivals.”

Stage and lake at lost lakes
The concert stage and one of the lakes of Lost Lakes.

But Doug Kupper, Director for the Parks and Recreation Department, sat down with Free Press at the end of Tuesday and gave a different view of how the PUD change in April transpired.

“They wanted to have the concerts. We didn’t invite them to have the concerts,” said Kupper.

“Technically speaking, he has been having concerts on his property with his old PUD,” Kupper said. “So he was having concerts already out there. Unfortunately, his old PUD didn’t allow for concerts.”

He said city staff encouraged the Skeens to reorganize and get the concerts “a little bit more within the confines of what they could legally do on their property under the PUD” because neighbors were complaining then.

City staff worked with the Skeens to eventually include the river front property rezoning to allow larger events.

The lease on the riverfront property allows people to camp out on the leased property during events.

Kupper said that every time the Skeens use Riverfront Development property, they have to give the authority a cut of the gate to help keep the Riverfront Development Authority in operation.

Skeen said he is ready to talk with the city any time about adjustments that need to be made.

“It’s an ongoing process that needs some attention. It’s not like we’re walking away,” he said.

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