The Saratoga Sun -

Discussing changes

Three significant changes to special event permits in Ordinance No. 862


“You can read it three times, but if nothing changes after you read it three times what is the point of reading it three times?”

A question from McCall Burau, one of the newest members of the Saratoga Planning Commission and co-owner of Firewater Public House, seemed to encapsulate the feeling members of the public had during the May 3 meeting of the Saratoga Town Council. 

As was previously reported, the council held the second reading of Ordinance No. 862. The ordinance amends portions of Chapter 5.30 of Saratoga Municipal Code which covers specially permitted events in town limits. While the ordinance was approved unanimously with three votes—Councilmember D’Ron Campbell was absent and Councilmember Ron Hutchins joined via phone—it came following approximately an hour of discussion between the council and members of the public.

Following concerns expressed by Chris Shannon, co-owner of a music venue called The Yard, Councilmember Jon Nelson read the ordinance in full on second reading. A copy of the ordinance was not available at the May 3 meeting, nor is one available on the Town of Saratoga website. Instead, a redlined document with the proposed changes is available to download.

There are three significant changes or clarifications to Chapter 5.30 proposed in Ordinance No. 862. 

The first, and one initially proposed in October 2020, came as a result of a special event permit submitted by the Saratoga Community Garden for Pesto Festo which expected an attendance of less than 50 people. The proposed change would create categories for major and minor special events with major special events having more than 50 people in attendance and minor special events having less than 50.

While major special events would require approval from a majority of the Saratoga Town Council, minor special events could be approved by town employees designated by the council to review and approve such permits. This, in itself, is not a change from the current code but is more clarified with the proposed amendments

The second change to Chapter 5.30 is in response to instances of camping at The Yard during the Hi-Water Hoedown in June 2021 and was initially proposed in July 2021. Under exemptions, three new subsections are proposed to be added. These include temporary recreational vehicle or tent camping at Saratoga Lake Campground or permitted recreational vehicle parks, overnight camping on Carbon County School District No. 2 property and overnight camping at a residence.

In regards to this final change, the propose language reads “Overnight camping of less than eight persons for a period not to exceed three consecutive nights on any lot or parcel located in a residential zone district or at a residence within another zone district where permanent water supply and sanitation facilities exist and are available for drinking, cooking and showering on the same lot or parcel.”

The third change proposed under Ordinance No. 862 relates to the presence of law enforcement at specially permitted events. Under Chapter 5.30, the town council has the ability to require the presence of fire protection personnel at a temporary use or structure—and at the permittee’s expense—as a condition of approval. The proposed change eliminates the language related to temporary use or structure and adds the requirement of law enforcement as a potential condition of approval for the special event permit.

Following the approval on second reading of Ordinance No. 862, discussion which had begun under Items from the Public continued. Some members of the public either provided suggestions for the ordinance or offered to serve on a committee to help the town council amend municipal code.

“There’s a lot of people here volunteering and if they would like to get together on a committee to apply some of their concerns, then I think they should have that opportunity,” said Burau. “But, again, what is the point of reading it three times if their comments aren’t altering the final ordinance?”

“It’s required by statute to read it three times and I think the council’s open to comments on it but, I think, to spend an hour or more at a council meeting … you’re never going to make everyone happy,” replied Mayor Creed James.

The next meeting of the Saratoga Town Council will be at 6 p.m. on May 17 at Saratoga Town Hall.


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