ST. GEORGE – The City Council will be discussing the city’s special events permitting process during a work meeting Thursday. The permitting process recently came under public scrutiny in the wake of a dance that was shut down by police in October. Though the city has no actual anti-dancing ordinance, St. George has been the brunt of “Footloose” jokes due to a perceived hostility toward such activities.
The City Council will also be discussing its net metering policy in regards to solar power use.
Rules regarding the city’s permitting process have come into question since St. George Police officers broke up a would-be dance event at the Fiesta Fun Center Oct. 25. Officers shut down the event due to alleged permit violations on the part of Jared Keddington, event promoter for Heart of Dixie, which organized the Halloween party the dance was a part of.
Read more about police shutting down the dance at Monster Mash Halloween party here.
Currently the city requires that special events be presented to the city for approval 30 days before the event is to take place. City staff has said this is to ensure the city and any associated third parties have a chance to review everything in detail before sending a permit application to the City Council for final approval.
Some of the factors the council considers relate to where the event will take place, how many people are expected to attend, if there is adequate sanitation, whether the immediate area would be negatively impacted by noise and traffic, and so forth. In short, they consider the general safety of the event attendees and others already in the area.
“We’re going to hear from our city staff researching what other cities have done for their special event permits,” Mayor Jon Pike said.
The presentation will include cities in Utah as well as out of state, Pike said. They will be looking at whether or not the city councils or the city departments approve the permits, what number of participants may trigger the need for city council approval, and so on.
“All those different criterion are what we’ll be looking at,” Pike said.
He said it may take a meeting or two to hash out any potential changes in the permitting process, or it may not. The City Council may have a clear direction of where it wants to go that night. The city approves numerous events – including those with dancing – on a regular basis. If anything, the city may be able to at least streamline the process, Pike said.
“We don’t know if there will be large changes or small changes,” he said. “If we can make things a little easier, we will.”
News about the October incident at Fiesta Fun hit the national news and was even mentioned on Saturday Night Live. A dance protest on the steps of the St. George Offices was also held Nov. 6 that drew a large crowd and gained statewide media coverage.
Net metering policy
The City Council will also be discussing the city’s net metering policy related to St. George power customers using solar power.
Pike said some residents using solar power also want to use city power as a backup. Because of this the city is looking at what charges and fees would be appropriate for such an arrangement.
“Even though they use solar power, they still need to use the (city) utility,” said René Fleming, energy services coordinator for the city.
Fleming said an increasing number of people have installed solar systems on their homes in recent years, and in some cases are zeroing out their power bills for the year as they shift to green, renewable power. However, solar users still use the city utility and infrastructure and need to pay for that use, she said.
There is also a concern of nonsolar customers effectively subsidizing solar users, Fleming said. In order to address these concerns, city staff will be presenting the City Council with possible options on how to address the issue in the future.
The City Council will be meeting at the Royal Oaks Park at 1250 N. 1400 W. at 4 p.m. Thursday to dedicate the park. (See ed. note)
Following the dedication the council will relocate to the St. George City Offices at 175 East 200 South at 5 p.m. to discuss special event permitting and net metering policy.
Ed. note: Park address corrected.
- Protesters fight for their right to dance; STGnews Videocast
- Crashed Monster Mash dance: Promoter decries, city stands by permit process
- Dancing at Monster Mash party stopped by police over disputed event permit
- City Council tables amendment to net metering policy ordinance
- Ivins City commemorates solar project completion
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