HORSEHEADS, N.Y. (WETM) – “The L,” a popular concert venue run by the “Journey Church” on Breesport Road has some big shows ahead on its schedule. They include a performance by Ace Frehley, a founding member of the legendary rock band KISS, country music star Morgan Evans, and a standup performance by professional WWE wrestler Mick Foley. But where will those shows be held?
As we reported last month, the “Journey Church” lost part of its tax exemption because of the money it was making from “The L” concert venue. The church, which also runs other businesses, including a barber shop and cafe, has been involved in a dispute with the Town of Horseheads over zoning permits since February. The new pastor at “Journey Church”, Reverend Kevin O’Shell, told the Town Planning Board the church is looking at moving the remaining shows at “The L.”
Minutes from the October 4th Town of Horseheads Planning Board meeting include remarks from Reverend O’Shell. He told the Town a suicide prevention organization named the “I Matter Foundation” would “no longer sponsor these types of events” at “The L.” The minutes show Rev. O’Shell told the Town the church was “looking to move I Matter events that are currently booked to an off-site location.”
“iMatter” was founded by the former Pastor at the Journey Church, Scott Lowmaster. In a previous planning board meeting, Rev. O’Shell said Lowmaster was no longer associated with the church in any capacity. Rev. O’Shell also told the Town Lowmaster “left quite a mess” for the church to clean up. In a phone call, Lowmaster told 18 News he resigned on August 1st over what he described as “a lot of fighting, a lot of crazy crazy stuff and I’m just tired.” The iMatter Foundation shares the same address as The Journey Church and “The L” at 116 Breesport Road.
The minutes also show Rev. O’Shell said sound checks were done at “The L” that established a decibel level of 95. Rev. O’Shell said because of the way the building was built, he “doesn’t believe there will be any way to mitigate the problematic noise levels.” The Town of Horseheads codes about noises do not set a maximum decibel level. The codes do, however, say “It shall be unlawful for any person to make, or cause to be made, any unreasonably loud or disturbing noise which either annoys, disturbs, or endangers the comfort repose, health, peace or safety of others within the limits of the Town of Horseheads.”
The minutes also show concerns were mentioned from residents who said the church was continuing to book more concerts. Rev. O’Shell said that to his knowledge, that was not true. Rev. O’Shell said he believed there were 8 concerts left this year. He told the Town concerts will “not be scheduled into the new year.” “The L’s” website shows 7 upcoming events through November.
Town of Horseheads attorney John Mustico said “The one big issue is that the “I Matter Foundation” is the entity operating the concerts, which puts Journey Church in the position of being landlord to ‘I Matter.’ The main test, Mustico said, “will be whether any burden is put on the church by the town in regards to zoning, if it places a substantial burden on the church’s religious exercises.”
Rev. O’Shell also told the Town the barber shop will be moving to a different location with a new owner. He said the cafe will be run by the church, but will only be open to the public during events at the church. As for the gym, the minutes say “The gym is considered commercial use and therefore has to be part of the approval process.”
The minutes say “Code Director Greg Larnard stated his office did receive a copy of the floor plan, however, it was not sufficient. It did not reflect which businesses are in each office. Attorney John Mustico stated the commercial entities in the building need to be discussed in regards to the PUD (planned unit development). Reverend O’Shell said that he can provide an updated site plan.”
Town Attorney John Mustico says the planning board is expected to refer the issues to the Town Board next month. We reached out to Adam Bunce, the man responsible for booking shows at “The L.” We offered a chance to interview him only about the shows. Mr. Bunce did not respond.
Below, you can read the full minutes regarding “The L” from the Town of Horseheads Planning Board meeting on Oct. 4th.