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Washington County considers special-events ordinance

October 08, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday began discussing the first draft of a special-events ordinance that would require some events to be permitted by the county.

The commissioners requested power to adopt a special-events ordinance from the state legislature this year on behalf of the Washington County Sheriff's Department and other departments.

Those who lobbied for the ordinance said they sometimes get short or no notice about large events, which makes it hard to ensure the organizer has gotten all required approvals.

"It's about knowing about the event to be able to keep the public safe," Washington County Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said.

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Under the draft ordinance, all events would require permits, except those sponsored by the Washington County Board of Education or events held at privately owned golf facilities, licensed recreational sites or "permanently and fully enclosed structure(s) designed primarily for the gathering of people," such as churches or gymnasiums.

Permit applications would have to be approved by the Sheriff's Department and Fire and Emergency Services, as well as the Recreation Department, Public Works, Permits and Inspections and Planning, in certain cases.

Applications would not be granted without proof of insurance except for political events and neighborhood block parties.

Permits would cost $50 and event organizers would still be responsible for the funding of extra police or emergency services support, if needed.

The County Commissioners recommended allowing the Sheriff's Department and volunteer fire and rescue companies to continue negotiating agreements with event organizers as they do now.

The commissioners recommended a penalty of $250 for not obtaining a permit.

They also agreed that appeals should go first to the County Administrator and then, if unresolved, to the County Commissioners.

The Washington County Attorney will bring the draft, with recommended changes, back to the commissioners for approval.

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