The organizer of a Latino festival hired seven deputies and private security for an event after a county commissioner and residents tried to stop the festival.
Montgomery County Commissioner Doug Singleton tried to rush a resolution onto the agenda last week to officially request the city to enforce a zoning rule that would prevent a Latino festival’s location from being used for entertainment purposes.
Singleton needed all five commissioners’ votes to waive a rule to get the resolution on the agenda, but Commissioner Dan Harris voted against it saying the time couldn’t be worse with El Paso, Texas’ mass shooting.
About 20 residents of the Snowdoun community, where the festival took place, protested the event at a Montgomery City Council meeting last week. They complained the previous Latino festival on July 14, held by the same organizer, was a noise nuisance and traffic hazard.
The property at 1890 Snowdoun Chambers Road is gated with a sign that says Rancho El Paraiso. The rural land is private and out of the Montgomery’s jurisdiction.
Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said he asked the sheriff and police department to be responsive to any violations. Although event organizers obtained a liquor license for the first festival, a liquor license was not approved for the second event.
Singleton attended the festival Sunday and counted seven deputy vehicles in addition to private security working the event. The festival organizer, James Brown, hired security but was not required to do so, Singleton said.
“I don’t know if there’s any quote requirements. They probably had more than what was expected just to make sure there was no issues,” Singleton said.
Sheriff Derrick Cunningham said hiring a deputy could cost anywhere from $30 to $35 per hour. Cunningham also said two patrol officers were stationed in the area Sunday.
Cunningham attended the event saying everyone had a great time, but people may have assumed something bad was going to happen even though there were no issues at the last festival.
“Wouldn’t you be scared? All that stuff they had in the paper and on the news. Most of the people probably were scared to go down there,” Cunningham said.
Singleton said the presence of security is common for an event that size. But, a resident told the Advertiser about 400 people attended the previous Latino festival that neighbors complained about. Singleton said there were two security guards at that festival. There were about 400 people at the most recent festival, Singleton said.
In Singleton’s opinion, security was hired as a courtesy.
“Just for safety and I think also just a gesture of cooperation with the community to make sure that there were no issues with traffic when people were leaving and to make sure everybody was comfortable being there,” he said.
Prior to the event, Singleton requested the organizer turn the music down and re-position the stage so the sound would be directed toward open fields and a land owner that didn’t have an issue with the event.
“I will say that on behalf of the organizers of the event, they did everything that they had promised me they would do,” Singleton said.
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