Fest organizer files lawsuit against city

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 11, 2000

The organizer of the &uot;for-profit&uot; Natchez Bluff Blues Festival is appealing the noise permit issued by the City of Natchez to both the Board of Aldermen and U.S. District Court.

The permit restricts the playing of amplified music in Memorial Park between 3:25 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, when a wedding will take place in the adjacent St. Mary Basilica.

&uot;I spoke with all the aldermen and it was obvious that they were willing to go back on their word and force us to shutdown — that would just kill the festival,&uot; said Eric Glatzer, who has produced the festival for four years. &uot;It’s not just an hour. The time matter is irrelevant. I was given a promise and now they want to renege on that promise.&uot;

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Natchez Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown said Glatzer shouldn’t complain about the restrictions.

&uot;It’s unfortunate that Mr. Glatzer has chosen to make an issue out of his use of Memorial Park,&uot; Brown said. &uot;… But this is a for-profit operation, and he’s a resident of Jefferson County coming in here being disruptive to the taxpayers of Natchez and the members of St. Mary’s.&uot;

Brown said the board members &uot;voted unanimously last time we met (March 27) to amend … whatever permit would be issued to provide no amplified music during religious ceremonies,&uot;&160;including wedding Masses.

Brown said the discussion was held during executive session and the motion was voted on in open session.

Brown said he did call Glatzer, at the board’s request. &uot;We weren’t asking him to relocate, although we told him if he chose to we would make another location available&uot; at Canal and Broadway streets.

Memorial Park, which is owned by the City of Natchez, shares the block of Main Street between Union and Rankin streets with the basilica.

Brown said the board’s action came at the request of Michael Worley, owner of Dunleith, who is scheduled to be married at St. Mary on Saturday.

&uot;He didn’t ask the city to mediate or regulate,&uot; Brown said. &uot;He told me he had contacted Mr. Glatzer and made a substantial offer … to compensate (Glazter) for his loss of revenues&uot; if he would stop the festival during the wedding.

Glatzer said the offer from Worley was too low.

&uot;(Worley) asked me how much it would cost for me to shutdown for half a day,&uot; Glatzer said. &uot;And I said it was $11,000 — he offered $5,000.&uot;

The mayor said Worley had contacted several members of the board of aldermen about the situation prior to the board’s discussion and vote.

However, Glatzer said the board of aldermen gave him permission in 1999 to hold the festival on April 14, 15 and 16, along with approving dates for the 2001 festival. Glatzer has said he sought the prior approval after a similar incident occurred last year, when he was forced to shut down the festival temporarily to allow a wedding to take place at St. Mary. Worley could not be reached for comment Monday.

In his lawsuit, Glazter claims the 1999 temporary shutdown cost him some $6,000, as most patrons and festival-goers chose to leave during the break in entertainment.