Grand Island Town Board: Public assembly permit law has second hearingby jmaloni
by Larry Austin
A proposed law to require public assembly permits had another hearing Tuesday at Town Hall.
Local Law Intro No. 3 of 2013 - Public Assembly Permit would regulate parades and special events having more than 200 persons in attendance that would apply to such events as carnivals, circuses, fairs, bazaars and outdoor shows and concerts.
"We're definitely not sure that this is the law," Town Supervisor Mary Cooke said of the proposal before the board. "But the goal is to deal with the public safety plan portion of the state fire code that our code enforcement officer is required to enforce."
Cooke referred to chapter 4 of the fire code of New York state that says "where the code enforcement official determines that an indoor or outdoor gathering of persons has an adverse impact on public safety through diminished access to buildings, structures, fire hydrants and fire apparatus access roads or where such gatherings adversely affect public safety services of any kind, the code enforcement officer shall have the authority to order the development of, or prescribe a plan for, the provision of an approved level of public safety."
Cooke said, "Some of the calls that I took prior to tonight dealt with questions that were answered in the law," adding that the board is trying carefully to "craft a law that will help us enforce what we are required to do according to the fire code of New York state, much the same as we have to enforce the building code. We're looking for a method for our code enforcement officer to use because right now the code enforcement officer is forced to do everything reactively."
"We had a public hearing on this last year," Cooke said, "but of the six speakers who spoke, I don't think anyone had read it, and so many of their concerns that were expressed last time around related to things that were addressed, but they didn't know it because they hadn't seen the law yet."
No one spoke in favor of the law on public assembly permits. Ron Rezabek, who called himself a 68-year resident of the Island, spoke in opposition. A member of the seven organizations and current president of the Niagara River Fishing Station, Rezabek said he felt "being intruded upon," and he asked if the application fees mentioned in the proposed law amounted to "a hidden tax." Cooke responded that "a first run-through would not require any fee at all, and the hope is that with a quick look at what's being planned, most things would not require further review."
Rezabek suggested the board raise the attendance level from the stated 200 in the law. "The recommendations from the organizations that I represent is 500 people, anything less, forget it," he said.
"In general, why hassle? And I know we've got to have fire protection, I know we've got have police protection, I know we have to have fire activity access."
Rezabek said "we have enough traffic and behavior laws," a sentiment echoed by James Dinsmore of West River Road, who also opposed the law, saying "we have enough laws in place. If they could be enforced, we wouldn't have another unnecessary law."
The board voted to continue to look at the law, taking into account resident input.