Permits for events in the City of Trenton continues to be a topic of conversation for city commissioners.
During the October meeting of Trenton City Commissioners, a discussion on parades was held and Mayor Alex Case began the discussion around COVID guidelines.
Case briefly added concerns regarding event permits and parades. The parade in question at the time was the cancelled DCHS Homecoming Parade. Case said that event permits were something that had been discussed with the Police Chief and that the city needed enough notice to know which roads to block and a plan for handling traffic and other concerns. Case said the city may need to discuss an ordinance, but was reminded by City Clerk Russanna Jenkins that parades were included in the city’s Special Event Application.
Case listed the streets that are affected by the Homecoming parade and parade lineup, especially on a Thursday, and spoke again about the need for law enforcement help and added the city usually received help from the county with traffic control and street closings.
City Commissioners discussed an event permit ordinance to help cover liability, traffic control, and other concerns early in 2020 when concerns were brought to the commission by Case regarding the 1945 Dade County Fair.
The ordinance, as it was introduced at the time, was presented by Ansel Smith with Code Enforcement in March. The ordinance was tabled for review according to video from the March city commission meeting.
The city’s attorney made an appearance at a special called meeting to go over the need for an ordinance and liability insurance, as well as COVID concerns, a few months later specifically as it pertained to the 1945 Fair. The fair had been held annually on July 4 at Jenkins Park and ended up being cancelled due to COVID restrictions after fair organizers obtained liability insurance for the event as requested by the city.
During that time, a Special Event Application was approved. During the July meeting, the Mountain Valley Independent asked why the special event ordinance was not in Municode, the online service paid for by the city that has codes and ordinances for several cities in Georgia. Case responded it had only been a couple months since it was approved so there had not been time to get it up. When asked for a copy of the ordinance, Case supplied a copy of the Special Event Application which had been approved by the commission and the city’s attorney.
According to Case, to update Municode costs $15,000 to $20,000 each time a change is made, so the city saves up the code and ordinance changes and does them all at one time. Just to have the ordinances and codes online and accessible to the public through Municode costs the city $3,000 a year.
A call to Trenton City Clerk Russanna Jenkins in the week following the October City Commission meeting confirmed that the city has neither an ordinance or policy to deal with events and event permitting – only the Special Events Application approved by the city attorney and commissioners.
Unclear is what, if any, penalities there are for not obtaining a permit and what events require a permit. Specifically listed on the application under “Type of Event” are examples of “run, walk, parade, street festival, times race, etc.”. Does that include church or benefit singings in the park, church events within city limits but on church grounds, or city sponsored events and others that are being held on school property within city limits?
When asked, Case said they were concerned with any event held on city property and any event which would affect or close city roads.
When asked how anyone would know they need to get an event permit, Jenkins said they would just call the city.
City commissioners were contacted to determine what their knowledge of Special Events permit. Commissioner Houts referred the Mountain Valley Independent back to Jenkins, the City Clerk.
Case said that the city realizes they have some gaps in their codes and ordinances and that the city’s book had not been touched in a very long time when Case took office.
Various amendments, updates and changes have actually been brought to the city’s attention by Smith, former Fire and Utilities Commissioner Jerry Henegar and Streets Commissioner Monda Wooten. Case said there is a lot that needs to be done and they are working as fast as they can to fix everything and the event permit application is part of that, but COVID has complicated even that with questions of liability not for injury, but for sickness.
“Case said he has spoken with the city attorney regarding the event application and is waiting to hear back on whether or not the city needs an ordinance or a policy in place, or if the application itself is enough.