Lititz ponders party permits

By on December 5, 2013

Borough Council’s approval last week of a special-event permit application for the Lititz Historical Foundation may be the last one of the year, and perhaps the last of its kind.

The permit issued – for the foundation’s annual Christmas Carol – comes just ahead of proposed changes to the special-event permit application process discussed at the board’s Nov. 24 meeting.

Sgt. Kerry Nye of the Lititz Borough Police Department detailed a list of proposed changes that include a $25 application fee for parades and events that require road closures.

Council President Karen Weibel said the borough once had an application fee in place for special-event permits but never collected it.

However, increased costs associated with the events require action, she said.

“When you see all of the time various departments put into these events, I think it is appropriate to collect a fee,” Weibel said.

The fee would not apply to block parties or non-profit events.

“However, it would apply to major events that require tremendous amounts of time making sure the event comes off correctly,” Weibel said. “I don’t think anyone wants to raise the fee, but $25 is a good place to start.”

The borough’s special event ordinance is borrowed heavily from Lancaster City’s, Weibel admitted. It requires a permit for a parade, celebration or any other special event that will close or significantly impact any public road, sidewalk or park.

While the $25 fee won’t apply to all applications, other proposed changes will likely apply to all events.

For instance, Nye suggested the borough require pre- and post-event meetings to discuss planning and examine the execution of those plans.

“Right now, there have been only a few that have had meetings,” Nye said. “The bike race, Fourth of July, and the zombie run.”

The organization style used for the zombie run, held in October, drew praise from Lititz Police Chief William Seace and other local officials.

Nye suggested new special-event permits require planners to apply at least 120 days prior to the event due in part to changes by the state and PennDOT, which now require a municipality to submit its own special-events paperwork to Harrisburg within 60 days of the scheduled event.

“We upped it to 120 days because the state has changed it’s application time; they need at least eight weeks notice,” Nye said. “They also changed whole forms too.”

The new forms also require special-event applicants to fill out confusing road closure forms, which Nye said is not practical.

“They’re not going to know what to ask for,” he said. “(Police) have always done it in the past and we’ll continue to do it.”

Though the board took no action, it will consider adopting new special-event permit changes that will require applicants to notify businesses in the area of the event, raise fees to $100 from $50 to allow free parking meters during the event, and submit and post a map of activities associated with the event.

The borough may also reserve the right to charge a fee for street cleaning and trash pickup if it is deemed necessary after the event.

Weibel expressed concerns to Nye that some applicants will likely struggle to comply with the new requirements during the approval process and “not have their ducks in a row” in meeting the deadline.

“(Police) are going to have to come back to council with updates on some of the bigger events,” Weibel said.

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