Offseason concerts at Burnsville’s Buck Hill slopes now can be held 10 times a year and extend later into the evening, despite some neighbors’ complaints that the music rattles pictures on their walls and turns living rooms into pub rooms.
“The first two nights were literally unbearable at our house,” Tom Burns said at a recent City Council meeting. “It was like the speakers were set up in our front yard — and we live half a mile away.”
Earlier this month, the Burnsville City Council unanimously approved Buck Hill’s request to hold four more shows than permitted last year and to extend shows to 10:30 p.m., which includes a half-hour buffer for Thursday through Saturday shows. Attendance per show will be limited to 4,500.
“The reason for the 10:30 [end time] is to give us a little, I’ll say, grace period,” said Buck Hill CEO and President David Solner, allowing for technical malfunctions or weather delays that sometimes push back start times.
The ski area last year asked permission to hold concerts during warm-weather months, prompting city officials to issue a temporary permit that allowed six shows ending at 9:30 p.m.
Attendance and revenue didn’t reach the levels that Buck Hill had forecast, Solner acknowledged in a letter to the city. But he said the concerts did bring excitement to the venue, including a classic rock lineup in July that included Loverboy and the Little River Band, and he said he wants to keep it going.
Next summer’s lineup, according to the Buck Hill website, includes Lou Gramm of Foreigner and the Guess Who, among others.
Council Member Dan Kealey said the real issue wasn’t when the concerts ended, it was their decibel level. Some residents agreed the concerts were too loud but also said they ended too late, given the proximity to residential areas.
Burns, who spoke at the council meeting, said that Buck Hill’s request for 10 shows means they want “almost 10 percent of our summer.” Tom Anderson said he has a friend who lives within a quarter-mile of Buck Hill who compared the vibrations during shows to a “mini-earthquake.”
“If it ain’t your favorite, you get to listen to it anyway,” Anderson said. “It’s just asking too much of people that never bought the house with the intention of listening to that kind of stuff.”
Linda Stout said she couldn’t hear her TV or talk on the phone during shows. The noise level rivaled that of a bar, she said. She also worried that the concerts would usher drugs into her neighborhood and lower property values.
Bruce Adams, however, said Buck Hill is a community asset that hosts fundraisers and also serves as a polling place. “I want to see us do everything we can to make sure they have an opportunity to be economically viable,” he said.
In the end, the council stipulated that Buck Hill must monitor noise at shows to comply with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency standards, and agreed with the suggestion of Buck Hill officials to have a sound technician measure decibel levels.
Council Members Dan Gustafson and Cara Schulz worried that the city was requiring sound monitoring at Buck Hill but not other music venues. “I don’t want to unfairly regulate one dramatically differently than another,” Gustafson said.
Buck Hill, which offers skiing, sledding, tubing and mountain biking on its trails, opened in 1954. In 2015, it was sold to Solner and his wife, Corrine, and Don McClure, who has managed the ski slope for decades. From the start, the team envisioned a range of new uses for the property.
Gustafson called the outcome a good compromise. “Buck Hill does really bend over backward to make sure the neighbors are OK,” he said.