Arapahoe County denies permit request for Riot Fest in Byers; appeal possible

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The first Riot Fest attracted about 14,000 people to Byers in 2013.

The first Riot Fest attracted about 14,000 people to Byers in 2013.

AURORA, Colo. — An Arapahoe County zoning administration denied a temporary use permit for the three-day Riot Fest show in Byers, the county announced Friday.

The show, which features rock and punk acts, was scheduled for Sept. 19-21 at May Farms after making its debut in the state at the same location last year. It was expected to attract up to 17,500 people to Byers, which has just more than 1,000 residents east of Denver.

The county said it was denying the permit, in part, “based upon traffic impacts and public safety concerns that would adversely impact surrounding property owners.”

RELATED: Read the entire letter denying the temporary use permit

It’s not clear how organizers of Riot Fest will handle the tickets that have already been purchased or if they will seek another location. Organizers have 10 days to appeal the decision to the Arapahoe County Board of Adjustment.

On July 1, more than 200 people attended a public meeting into the permit, and residents voiced concerns about the noise, traffic and drug use surrounding the show.

The county said ticket sales were estimated at 14,000 last year and organizers were expecting that to spike to 17,500 this year.

RELATED: Photos from Riot Fest 2013

“While the applicant has provided some ideas on measures that would mitigate the impacts of the traffic and parking and improve the traffic flow for the event proposed this year, based upon comments provided by the County’s Engineering Division, it appears that the mitigation would only be partially successful, and that there would still be long lines of cars down the access corridors to May Farms, including Highway 36 through the Town of Byers, and there would still be substantial congestion for extended periods during the duration of the event, as the roadway infrastructure in the area is not designed nor capable of handling such volumes,” according to the denial letter by the zoning administrator.

The letter also read:

“Due to the amount of traffic congestion from Riot Fest, emergency service providers would not be able to serve the residents of Byers, the surrounding areas, or the attendees of Riot Fest on a timely basis. In addition, the congestion and configuration of the event parking/camping would result in pedestrian/vehicle conflicts along Bradbury Road and I-70. In the case of a disaster at Riot Fest, the ability to evacuate the site quickly would be impaired by the limited access and the existing roadway infrastructure and network.”


  • Marcie

    Bummer deal…so you can organize a concert before you actually obtain the permits? I’m hoping for change of venue or $$ back announcement real soon… I hate not knowing when I have $150 bucks on the line

  • ColoradoCommish

    Nearly $60,000 in damages ( with other estimates to be closer to $100,000 ) at last years event, might have also had something to do with it….
    (FYI… Damages from Lollapalooza events are sometimes near the $Million mark…. perhaps these venues need to start requiring an insurance policy be purchased as well these days….)
    Just sayin…..

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