Even with a new ordinance governing special events citywide in place, specific regulations for St. Armands Circle Park continue to be an issue.
Last month, the city established new guidelines for special events at St. Armands Circle Park. The ordinance, finalized Nov. 17, creates a moratorium on events at the park from February through April and regulates the number of events held on a monthly basis.
One element left unresolved was a directive from commissioners that an ad-hoc committee should form to create additional standards for events at the park. Considering the unique, commercial-tourist environment on the Circle, commissioners reasoned, it made sense to tailor specific criteria potential events should meet to be held in the area.
On Monday, however, the idea of an ad-hoc committee was met with some resistance. Hugh Fiore, president of the St. Armands Residents Association, said that although input is important, the ordinance needs time to function first.
“All parties would be better prepared to participate in such a committee after the new ordinance has been in place for a sufficient period of time,” Fiore said.
The commission agreed, voting unanimously to scrap plans for a five-person committee to create the standards. Instead, the commission directed staff to hold at least one workshop in March to discuss what, if any, additional criteria were necessary to manage events in the area.
One concern from the commission was the creation of objective standards, if new standards were added. Vice Mayor Susan Chapman said that, based on the clear standards established in the new ordinance, it was worth doing a trial run before tinkering with additional criteria.
“It would just seem this is so clear-cut, so objective, so based on a rational basis that maybe we should just see how it works,” Chapman said.
Diana Corrigan, executive director of the St. Armands Circle Association, agreed that the workshop was a better route. Considering the lengthy history of the issue and the number of stakeholders involved, Corrigan hoped a workshop would allow more voices to participate in the conversation.
“It just adds another level of bureaucracy, the committee,” Corrigan said. “I think with a workshop we’re going to get more accomplished with more people who really understand what the needs are for the residents, the merchants and the landowners.”
The ordinance includes a moratorium on events in the park from February through April; a limit of two events per month outside of the “blackout period,” with an exception for three events in January and October; and a 40-day window before an event permit can be issued following the notification of St. Armands residents.
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