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County rejects proposed permit for gatherings


By David Bodenheimer
The Dispatch

Published: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 10:44 p.m.


A new county zoning ordinance passed an initial amended reading Tuesday night, receiving approval from the Davidson County Board of Commissioners by a 4-3 vote

Commissioners Cathy Dunn, Fred McClure, Don Truell and board chairman Sam Watford supported the measure.
Commissioners Todd Yates, Larry Potts and Billy Joe Kepley voted against it.

By law, since the ordinance was not passed unanimously, it must pass a second reading which commissioners set for the next regularly scheduled meeting on June 14.

The ordinance last underwent major amending in 1994, said county Planning and Zoning Director Guy Cornman. Cornman's department worked on the zoning ordinance updates for the better part of a year and were aided in the process by the Piedmont Triad Council of Governments.

His latest proposal didn't pass the first read without taking some criticism from the board, which took exception to a particular section that dealt with the definition of special events. As proposed, the ordinance would have called for a permit to be obtained for “an activity, event, or group outing including but not limited to a performance, meeting, assembly, contest, exhibit, ceremony, parade, athletic competition, reading, or picnic involving more than 20 people which is atypical of the extent of impact or use occurring on a parcel or site.”

Cornman and Hannah Cockburn said purpose of the permit is to regulate public safety, public health and noise levels. Such events could be applied for by individuals up to four times per year. Cockburn said the permit was popular with other counties in the state.

“When you have an atypical event, you have an opportunity to make sure there is proper sanitation,” Cockburn said. “That they have a plan for the vehicles that are coming in and out of the property.”

Cornman suggested that an atypical event is larger than normal gathering in which entertainment might be present.

That particular definition of a special event didn't sit well with commissioners and as a result, was voted out of the ordinance altogether

Rather sarcastically, Yates asked if he were to host a cookout in his back yard with 20 people, would he need a permit.

Cockburn responded by saying a permit would not be required for such an event but said if live music or a show were planned then a permit would be necessary.

McClure raised similar concerns and asked if the county had experienced real problems with such events in the past.

“I really can't see much need to do this,” he said

David Bodenheimer can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 227, or at david.bodenheimer@the-dispatch.com.

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