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Public hearing set for Dec. 17 on new regulations for special events

During a special meeting Tuesday, the Riverhead Town Board set Dec. 17 as the date for a public hearing on a set of proposed new regulations for special events.
The hearing date was approved 3-0, with council members Jim Wooten and Jodi Giglio absent.
“We are amending the code to include a new definition of charitable organizations and … to have three categories of special events,” deputy town attorney Eric Howard said Tuesday.
The categories of special events are:
• A small gathering, with 100 to 1,000 attendees.
• A large gathering, with 1,001 to 4,000 attendees.
• A massive gathering, with 4,001 or more attendees.
The changes require that permit applications for small gatherings be filed at least 90 days before the event. Permit applications for large and massive gatherings must be filed, respectively, at least 120 and 180 days in advance.
Late applications will incur a fee, according to Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith. A massive gathering event application submitted less than 120 days beforehand will automatically be denied.
Additional deadlines are also set for small and large gatherings. A small gathering application must be submitted 45 days prior to the event or it will be denied and for a large gathering it’s 60 days.
Councilman Tim Hubbard and Ms. Jens-Smith said the town got input from its business advisory committee in developing the new requirements.
“We needed advice from people who deal with this on a daily basis,” Mr. Hubbard said.
Bob Kern, president of the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce, said: “I really appreciate the fact that the Town Board took the time to engage with stakeholders.”
The Town Board had originally adopted a new special events chapter in its code in December 2018, but many organizations were told they had already missed the new deadline for paying application fees.
Officials said the new rules were created in part because applicants in the past had regularly been filing late applications for event permits.
The December 2018 change aimed to establish more guidelines and stricter deadlines. It offered no exceptions and did not allow an appeal for applications filed after the deadline, according to Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith.
The supervisor said at that time that “many applications were being made that were either untimely or incomplete.”
After last Thursday’s work session, which lasted two and a half hours, both businesses and town officials appeared to be satisfied with the proposed changes.
“We had 50 applications all come at once last year when we changed the date,” the supervisor said. “People got it in on time because the fees changed at the end of February, so they all got their applications in by the end of February.”
Several applicants, however, did not meet the deadline, including Chicken Kidz children’s consignment sale, which flooded the board with letters and filled a Town Board meeting with angry parents after the board rejected its plea for an extension.
It was at that March meeting that the board agreed to extend the deadline for revamping the special permits section of the code to June 18, which allowed Chicken Kidz to have their event in April.
When June 18 came around, though, the board had not made any progress on the new code, and extended the deadline again, to Dec. 18. It now plans to adopt new regulations by that date. “I think the main area of concern was for the deadline for submissions of the applications and deadlines for the last day that a [late] application could be submitted,” Ms. Jens-Smith said.
The original plan required all permit applications to be submitted 40 days before an event, and was the same for all events, she said.
The Tuesday, Dec. 17, public hearing begins at 6 p.m.
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