Council approves revised special event permitting for St. George

At the George Streetfest on Main, St. George, Utah, July 4, 2015 | Photo by Leanna Bergeron, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Revisions to the ordinance governing the city’s special events permitting process were unanimously approved by the St. George City Council Thursday night. City officials said the revamped ordinance is clearer than its previous incarnation and will give the city more flexibility in approving permit applications.

The intent of the ordinance is to allow special events, but to allow them in a way that doesn’t conflict with other people or their rights,” Deputy City Attorney Paula Houston said, “so they don’t create a nuisance or property damage or a safety issue.”

Revisions to the ordinance were discussed by the City Council in a work meeting last week. The revision process has been in the works for a year following a highly-publicized incident involving police breaking up a Halloween dance due to a contested permitting mishap.

As a part of the revision, special event permit applications will no longer have to go before the City Council for approval. Instead, applications would be approved or denied by a designated city staffer. If an application is denied in part or whole, the applicant can still appeal to the City Council.

Applications for new events will be required to be turned in 45 days before the date of the event in order to allow the city staff time to process it, as well as give the applicant time to appeal to the council and still hold the event on time, Houston said.

Recurring events, like the George, Streetfest on Main, wouldn’t need to reapply for the permit, as the city would already be familiar with what the event was doing. However, any changes to the event will necessitate application for a new permit so the city staff can review the proposed changes.

The city will work with applicants where it can, Mayor Jon Pike said, but for those that turn in applications less than 45 days before the event’s date – “last minute” ones in particular – approval is questionable.

We’ve got to be able to tell people we’ve got the right to say, ‘No,’” Pike said.

Other changes to the ordinance eliminate the need for event centers, like the Dixie Center, to apply for special event permits, since the city staff is already familiar with them. However, permits will need to be applied for if the event goes beyond the approved function of the building.

Buildings where special assemblies take place also wouldn’t need to get a permit as long as the gathering within doesn’t exceed the building’s approved occupancy limit.

An addition to the ordinance that will shock applicants are new fees, City Manager Gary Esplin said.

The City Council has often waived fees for special events and the city has absorbed the cost. This has begun to impact the city’s budget, especially when those costs are associated with the use of city resources for the events, like using police for security or using the city’s stage with its staff setting it up.

“There are certainly costs associated with every event that we have and can’t really continue to absorb,” Esplin said.

The cost of using city resources will depend on how much is requested by the applicant. A fee schedule detailing the anticipated costs has yet to be decided upon but is in the works, Houston said.

Other business

The City Council approved the city’s continued sponsorship of the George, Streetfest through 2016. The event takes place on Main Street the first Friday of each month.

A bid was approved for $144,700 to Sunrise Engineering for a professional services agreement overseeing the design and development of sports fields and related facilities at the Little Valley Soccer Fields. It is one of the projects the city is funding with RAP tax revenue.

A bid for the hardscaping of the All Abilities Park was awarded to B. Hansen Construction for $472,320.

The City Council also approved a bid to Steed Construction for the construction of a 4,000-square foot building for the city’s Energy Services Department for $650,000.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.


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