Residents of Holmes County are waiting to see the specifics of a coming new outdoor event ordinance, which are still undecided as of this post. 

The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and residents have expressed concerns over the drafted version of the events ordinance, as it has been relayed to the public. 

Following an explanation by County Attorney Nate Nolin and multiple officials, the BOCC has called for additional modifications to the proposal before finalizing the proposed ordinance.

Following two drafting meetings of a selected special events committee, Nolin presented the third iteration of the ordinance to the BOCC Tuesday, June 4. Nolin said they have to balance private property rights with economic growth. 

The new ordinance would require private events with an expected attendance of over 250 people to complete an application through the County, as well as complete a series of checklists in order to achieve a permit to proceed.

Nolin walked the public and BOCC through each detail of the ordinance. The discussion focused on guidelines that each event must adhere to. 

“One of the critical elements in this ordinance is the timeframe,” Building Official Keith Bennet said. “Event organizers have 120 days to submit their applications, ensuring everything is in order 90 days prior to the event. This prevents any last-minute surprises.” 

An ordinance for outdoor events is being drafted after Sol Fest, an electronic dance music festival held in early May at Vortex Spring. Numerous local officials and residents said the event was not planned well, nor did they have proper advance notice of the festival, which drew complaints for loud music and numerous arrests for alleged drug possession. 

The BOCC concurred on a six-month advance application period, stipulating that all approvals must be finalized three months before the event. During this period, safety inspections and emergency resources must be arranged.

Nolin’s early proposal to require advance deposits for event cleanup is expected to be included in the final ordinance. However, the BOCC believe additional penalties are necessary to address any negative impacts on residents. 

“We need to be compensated for any adverse effects, rather than burdening taxpayers with the costs,” Commissioner Clint Erickson asserted. “No cost should impact our community.”

The BOCC said an additional stipulation should be added to the ordinance that ensures entry and exit of traffic not interfere with the transportation of children going to and from school.

The ordinance gave special exceptions to events such as religious gatherings, County-run events, and events that reside within city limits.

While this draft is not complete, the BOCC intends to field questions and concerns from the public on the ordinance at their next meeting on June 18 at 9 a.m. The BOCC intends to have a completed policy by July.

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