If you are planning an event which will require the closure of a state road in King the process just got a little bit harder.
The King City Council unanimously approved changes to city ordinances Monday to bring the city in line with new state regulations recently adopted by the North Carolina Department of Transportation which put new restrictions on how state maintained roads can be closed.
“The main thing is that a private event that is not co-sponsored by the city will now have to submit a special events form to the state 60 days prior to the event,” said City Manager Homer Dearmin. “The events that the city currently co-sponsor are not subject to that, however the state does state that the city would assume all liability for those events.
“If something should happen the city could be held liable as well as the organizers, so that may force us to take a closer look at the events that we co-sponsor,” he added.
Council unanimously approved a second ordinance change which locked in eight events the city plans to co-sponsor during 2016 including the Feed Stokes 5-k and Half-Marathon on March 12, Meet Me on Main on May 14, King of the Hill 5-k and 10-k on Sept. 17, West Stokes High School Homecoming Parade on Oct. 14, Joggin’ for Jugs on Oct. 15, Soaring for the Eagles 5-k on Oct. 15, Downtown Safe Trick or treating on Oct. 31 and the King Christmas Parade on Dec. 3.
Councilman Brian Carico asked if the city could require the applicant for each of these events to assume all liability.
“I think it is arguable that we could,” replied Dearmin. “I have asked our city attorney to look into it. We already request that the organizers provide proof of liability insurance. I think the state is just saying we are letting you hold an event on our state road but if something happens we are leaving it up to you to cover the damage.”
Carico also asked about setting up a clear time frame to allow applicants for other events to know if they have been approved, but Police Chief Paula May said doing so may be difficult because the answer would depend on state approval.
“We do not know how long it will take to get a response from DOT,” she said. “Until we get a response from DOT we cannot make that decision.”
The new ordinance also provides specific regulations for for public meetings held on public streets or sidewalks, requiring a permit for any such event which may include the delivery of a public address, lecture, demonstration, protest, sermon or discourse, public musical or theatrical performance and other such public events.
Applications for such events must be made in writing and would have to be approved by the King police chief within five days. Applications denied by the police chief could be appealed to the the City Council.
According to the ordinance applications could only be denied if they conflict with another event, would seriously obstruct the flow of traffic, or could pose a threat to public safety.
The new ordinance also sets forth guidelines for parades, marches, processions, walks, runs or moving ceremonies within the city. Those guidelines provide a framework for applying to hold a parade, designate the police chief the authority to determine the route of the parade, and sets restrictions on the types of signs that can be used in a parade.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.