Local Officials Vote Against Return Of South Farms Concerts In 2021

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The Morris Planning and Zoning Commission in Morris, Connecticut issued a cease-and-desist order to South Farms, bringing an end to socially distanced concerts on February 1, 2021. Currently scheduled events at South Farms will go on as planned, among them shows by Warren Haynes, moe., Grace Potter, Goose and others, including Pigeons Playing Ping Pong who will hold the first of two concerts at the venue tonight.

An article by Michael Hamad in the Hartford Courant detailed the commission’s vote to end the Twilight Concerts On The Farm series that began in August. South Farms is owned by the Paletsky family and typically used to host weddings, but expanded to include outdoor concerts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Area promoter Premier Concerts/Manic Presents and NHCPA South Farms (a subsidiary of New Haven Center for Performing Arts) helped establish the concert and comedy series.

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The commission concluded that a temporary zoning permit, based on an executive order issued by Governor Ned Lamont expanding outdoor dining, was incorrectly granted to South Farms. Since the permit was incorrectly issued by the commission, they voted to enforce the cease-and-desist order when the executive order ends on February 1, 2021, in part to prevent exposing Morris to litigation.

“We needed to put it on record and make it clear to the South Farms and to the neighbors that the board recognizes that this is not an acceptable use under normal zoning regulations,” Morris Planning and Zoning Commissioner David Wiig told the Courant. “[South Farms] does have concerts, but [owner Ben Paletsky’s] primary use, as he’s stated several times, is a wedding venue. Therefore, the music to me was accessory to that use, whereas now it’s become the primary use. Outdoor performances are not a permitted use in any zone in Morris.”

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Prior concerts held at South Farms utilized socially distanced pods in a grid-like layout as well as live sound. In addition to Haynes and Goose, South Farms this year has hosted concerts by Dark Star Orchestra, Twiddle, Marcus King and others as well as comedians Nikki Glaser and Bill Burr. Upcoming events at South Farms besides the above-mentioned performers include Neko Case, G. Love, The Allman Betts Band, Manchester Orchestra and The Front Bottoms, as well comedians Mike Birbiglia, Pete Davidson and John Mulaney

Read Hamad’s full report on the situation in Morris here.

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