With an increasing number of special events in Manatee County, some events like 5K runs on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard have created some concerns with the Manatee County sheriff.
To address those safety and security concerns, Manatee County staff presented a proposed special events ordinance to commissioners Thursday afternoon.
“It is a very different approach than what we have taken in the past,” Deputy County Administrator Karen Windon said. “This will help us build a stronger community.”
The current approach is geared more toward whether a planned activity is properly zoned. The new ordinance would be a “move toward a model that is more police-power oriented, not Land Development Code,” said Chief Assistant County Attorney Rob Eschenfelder.
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“Rather than requiring a land use permit as has been the case in the existing process, a separate permit will be required that delineates the pre-planning components of the event incorporating traffic, parking, safety, security, ingress and egress, sanitation and lighting among others,” according to Thursday’s agenda materials. Since Thursday was a work session, there was no action taken.
The draft ordinance also includes a fee schedule and an appeal process.
“This ordinance is specific to Manatee County, but there are best practices across the country as to how you manage special events,” Windon said.
Commission Chairwoman Vanessa Baugh said she would not vote for anything that would cause a problem for existing events, such as Music on Main in Lakewood Ranch.
“Some regulation is necessary so everybody is on the same page with the events,” she said. “It is something in today’s world that we have to think about.”
Commissioner Charles Smith said he doesn’t think the proposed ordinance should have been brought forward during the political season.
“I need more information on this,” he said, adding that he had concerns about the possible effect on tourism.
Pointing to the Rubonia Mardi Gras, Commissioner Larry Bustle said he doesn’t want the commission to do anything that would keep an event from being safe and nice.
“It would seem to me that we do need to reach out to some of the organizers of the major events,” he said.
County Administrator Ed Hunzeker reminded commissioners that Thursday’s work session was simply an introduction to the subject.
“It is an introduction to the subject of how do we manage these special events to make sure the community is safe,” he said. “This is not ready for prime time yet.”