By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Special event ordinance changes revised again
Placeholder Image
After initial public outcry from residents against proposed changes reviewed by the Planning Commission on Oct. 8 to ordinances regulating special events, such as protests, residents who came to protest left appeased that newer revisions would not stifle their free speech rights.

About 30 residents turned out to march with signs outside the Assembly Hall before the Board of Commissioners zoning hearing on Oct. 22.

The ordinance changes initially proposed before the planning board would have reportedly required residents to apply 60 days in advance and prohibited events that blocked the entrance or exits of private or public property.

The revised amendment proposal requires a permit if an event would close a street on public property and includes a section exempting constitutionally protected activities. The application would be required 20 days before the event.

In the current ordinances, the individual or party holding the event must go to the Sheriff, Fire and Public Health departments for approved forms before receiving the permit, which is required 14 days before the event. In the proposed amendments, the county will collect the needed approvals and the individual will have one stop to make.

"This is 100 percent better," said resident Don Williamson during the public comments section against the ordinance change. He pointed out a couple of places that he felt the ordinance could be improved, such as making it less ambiguous whether an event would likely block a passageway or sidewalk.

Resident Garvin Hayes said he was also in favor of the ordinance change. "I thank you all for bringing it in the manner that you did. I'm going to encourage you all not to waive the second reading," he said, adding that would continue the pattern of the previous administration.
"I was pleased with the turnout and the new ordinances," said Rockdale Republican Party head Kellie Pharr, after the hearing. "It's nice to feel like they respond to the public's outcry."

Stan Williams, head of the Rockdale Democratic Party, said "I thought it was a whole lot to-do over nothing. That's why I came. What I read didn't sit with what I thought any of the commissioners would go along with. I didn't think they would do anything to disenfranchise people, and I was pleasantly verified."

The changes will likely be reviewed in the planning board's December meeting date.