The newly refurbished Legion Field Park came up for discussion at Monday’s Covington City Council meeting when Senior Planning engineer Scott Gaither presented the first reading of an ordinance that would require those renting a city-owned property to fill out and submit a special event permit and pay a $25 application fee.
Gaither said a special event is defined as any community interest activity, such as a carnival or concert, where the public is invited, whether on private or city property, is considered a special event and requires a permit. Some areas, such as the Downtown Square, are permitted through Main Street, he said
The director of planning and zoning would have the authority to issue the permit, either for private or public events.
Legion Field Park is the only city-owned property that is rented out for events that are open to the public, or only opened to invited guests. All or sections of the park can be rented privately, including the pavilion, the amphitheater, the fair building and the fields.
Gaither said the success of Legion Field Park, which can be rented for private events, brought attention to the lack of established guidelines for the rental of city property for private events. Though the Planning and Zoning Committee recommended rejecting the ordinance, staff felt the lease agreement alone didn’t provide enough information, dealing primarily with liability and use.
A special event permit, in addition to the lease agreement, would allow various departments, such as the police, fire and street departments, to review the event to determine what, if any, public safety concerns needed to be addressed, he said.
City Manager Leigh Anne Knight told the council the lease agreement does not provide information on anticipated attendance, vendors or other information. “It’s a way for us to determine what else we need to do … for a function. It just makes sense to attach the special use permit to the lease agreement,” she said.
When asked if the request for that information couldn’t be included in the lease, Frank Turner Junior, the associate city attorney, said it could be but it would need to be identical to the language used in the special event permit.
Following a public hearing on the ordinance, City Council Member Chris Smith, Ward 1 East, made a motion to approve the first reading of the ordinance but to remove the $25 permit application fee. When Knight asked if it was just for Legion Field, Smith said he wanted the special permit fee removed from all events. The motion passed unanimously.
The decision to remove the $25 special event fee effected the adoption of the 2016 to 2017 fee schedule, Knight said.
The fee schedule sets out the annual charges collected by the Engineering and Planning and Zoning Departments, which includes inspection fee, building and utilities permit fees, planning and zoning fees, water and sewer fees and alcohol permit fees.
Knight said the fees are reviewed and compared to other municipalities’ fees every two years, and that there was no change in the schedule from the 2015 schedule the council adopted last year, except the removal of the special event permit fee. The motion to approve the fee and remove the $25 special event permit fees passed unanimously.