The Arizona Folklore Preserve has received official approval to allow up to 44 vehicles to use its parking lot for special events.


An administrative oversight on the part of the performance center on Ramsey Canyon Road, south of Sierra Vista, resulted in a failure to apply for additional parking spaces when it constructed a new building in 2001.


The original Special Use Permit, issued in 1993 to Dolan Ellis, allowed for 13 parking spaces.


In his application to the Cochise County Planning & Zoning Commission, Mike Rutherford, president of the Board of Directors, said, “There are no physical changes. We have the space for 31 additional parking spaces. There was an oversight when the new building was built, and no-one requested additional, approved, parking spaces.”


The Arizona Folklore Preserve hosts musical performers on approximately 44 weekends throughout the year and can accommodate up to 63 audience members.


Volunteer and performer Jon Messenger said, “The Arizona Folklore Preserve is a jewel of Southern Arizona. It should be cherished and improved by Cochise County and the state of Arizona.”


However, Sally Close, who lives in Ramsey Canyon, believes the center creates too much traffic and opposed the application.


Concerns were also raised by some commission members regarding the preserve’s failure to comply with the conditions of the original permit.


“Some place somewhere we forgot to come back and get permission for extra parking,” said Rutherford, who was not involved with the facility at the time. “We are asking for permission for what we have been doing for 17 years. We’re just trying to do the right thing.”


The commission, at its April 11 meeting, voted by a 6-2 majority to allow the Special Use modification.