Chelsea's 'private use of public space' ordinance unanimously approved on first reading
Andrew Jameson | Wikimedia
The ordinance was brought forth at the request of Council Member Rod Anderson, who was approached about the city’s rules and regulations by a church group told it could not have a living nativity scene on city-owned property during an annual holiday festival in Chelsea.
Anderson said at the time that the city was treating religious and non-religious events differently, and requested that the city draft an ordinance.
He said previously he was trying to “make the city acknowledge it doesn’t discriminate against religious events."
“This is a very good effort,” Anderson said of the proposed ordinance, but he did have a few questions about what he called “the intentionally broad definition of what constitutes a special event.”
Under the proposed ordinance, a special event is defined as “a non-city sponsored event, included by not limited to an athletic event, festival, show, celebration, performance, display, seasonal event, gathering, video or film production,” and allows them in all zoning districts in the city.
Lisa Allmendinger | AnnArbor.com
“Is this net being cast a little too wide?” Anderson said, citing events such as peace demonstrations similar to the ones that were conducted in front of the downtown post office for many years.
The proposed ordinance excludes block parties or other right-of-way closures already covered by city police policies, and exempts the temporary daytime use of picnic tables and park gazebo for events for less than 50 people.
“We’re not trying to regulate family reunions of Boy Scout picnics or schools groups this is for more formalized groups,” said City Manager John Hanifan.
Among the proposed stipulations to hold an event is the granting of a special event permit by the City Council. Groups will need to fill out an application that includes basic contact information.
Also included on the proposed application is the purpose of the event and the estimated number of people who are expected to attend. The application would also include the date of the event and the hours during which it will take place. A sketch or drawing of the limits of the area that’s requested for use, would also be required.
If deemed necessary by the city manager, a certificate of insurance may be required. In addition, there may be a fee if city services are required for the event.
“The ordinance was cobbled together from a few different ones by (Community Development Director) Christine Linfield, Hanifan said, “I just made a few tweaks.”
The Chelsea City Council unanimously approved the draft on first reading and it will be up for second reading on May 8.
Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Chelsea stories, visit our Chelsea page.