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Special permit committee to recommend new ordinance to Council

SALISBURY — After nearly a year of discussion and debate, the City Council committee created to update a two-decade-old special permit ordinance made decisions on its recommendations Tuesday.

Special permits are used to regulate events such as races, festivals and block parties.

Councilman David Post — one of the two council members on the committee — said the existing special permit ordinance was written 20 years ago when the city hosted its first downtown festival.

But times have changed since then, he said.

“Now, when you look at what’s happened in Salisbury in the last few months, there have been races, Chickweed, Pride Day, more parades,” Post said.

The number of special events that Salisbury now hosts led Police Chief Jerry Stokes to initiate a review of the ordinance last year.

Now, after six community meetings, Post and fellow Councilman Brian Miller said they think the updated ordinance will be a vast improvement.

“This is far better than it was when we started,” Miller said.

He thanked the approximately 10 residents who had come to the committee meeting to share their concerns about details in the proposed ordinance.

“You participated in making this place that we call home a little bit better,” Miller said.

Many of those residents are members of organizations that will be directly affected by changes in the ordinance because of special events that those groups sponsor, such as Salisbury Pride and Salisbury Indivisible.

Some of the proposed changes include increased permit fees and earlier deadlines for permit applications to be turned in.

Miller mentioned several times during the course of the meeting that, if those present were not absolutely content with the language in the ordinance or the accompanying application, they could come and voice their opinions at the City Council meeting where the updated ordinance will be presented.

When he specifically asked if everyone present would be OK with thinking of the updated ordinance as a “starting point” to retire the current ordinance, no one disagreed. Three people voiced a “yes.”

Miller said the updated ordinance will likely be presented to the council in October.

Contact Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.

 

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