by Larry Austin
The Grand Island Town Board spent more than an hour in a work session April 15 discussing the fine print on a proposed local law governing special events. During a subsequent public hearing on the law, they heard the proposal called "over-reaching" by interested residents.
The Town Board sought to put in place a law to govern special events after last year's Taste of Grand Island. The board found out after the popular event that there were "issues concerning safety and fire hazards," Councilman Gary Roesch said.
According to the proposed law, special events would include "any social occasion, business development event, or any other activity occurring on public or private property, having more than 100 persons in attendance, open to the public, conducted outdoors, with or without admission or invitation fee, a sponsorship, or requested donation and held on a one-time or occasional basis, including, but not limited to, carnivals, circuses, fairs, bazaars and outdoor shows, horse shows or exhibitions, and concerts."
Exempt are "any property, structures, or uses whose primary or accessory function is to provide for regular public assembly," events sponsored and conducted entirely by the town, an event for the purpose of "expressive activity, provided that the organizers thereof give written notice to the Code Enforcement Department at least 48 hours prior to such event if more than 50 persons are expected to attend."
An approved public assembly permit "shall constitute a temporary amendment to the site plan."
Citizens who spoke in opposition to the law during the public hearing worried that the law, if enacted, would cover such events as funerals, ballgames, and graduation parties. Residents, including George DeGlopper of Fix Road, James Dinsmore of West River Road, and James Maloney of Whitehaven Road, voiced their opposition to the law, with Maloney calling the law "over-reaching" and "unrepublican."
The board took no action Monday night, and afterward Councilman Ray Billica said the intent of the law was "not an attempt by the Town Board to police everybody's party."