Weirton amends proposed rules
WEIRTON — Members of City Council, during a special meeting Wednesday, continued discussion on a proposed ordinance to implement a permit application and fee structure for special events and parades to be held in the city.
Four amendments were offered and approved on the ordinance, which had a 7-0 vote on its initial reading during the Sept. 8 council meeting. The amended ordinance, with a 5-2 vote Wednesday, will be presented for a second reading Oct. 13.
As originally presented, the ordinance stipulates those wishing to hold certain events using public spaces and streets in the city must submit a permit application at least 60 days ahead of time, with a $25 non-refundable fee.
Additional fees would be assessed based on the use of city personnel during the event, to include $38 per hour per police officer, $30 per hour per firefighter/EMS, $150 per hour per firefighting apparatus or medic unit, $25 per hour per laborer from Public Works and $75 to $100 per hour for equipment from Public Works.
Prior to discussion, council heard from Brenda Mull, president of the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce, who explained the ordinance, as originally written, would be cost-prohibitive to some of the community activities offered by the chamber, including those celebrating the Christmas holiday season.
“If you would pass it as it is currently, it could be detrimental as to whether we could have a Christmas parade,” Mull said, noting the chamber seeks sponsorships from the local business community to cover much of the parade’s cost, including a live television broadcast and fireworks.
Ward 4 Councilman George Ash offered three amendments to the ordinance, including one which would waive all fees for 501(c) nonprofit entities. It was approved unanimously.
Ash also requested an amendment to set a cap of $1,000 in fees for all other entities submitting an application, noting the potential high cost for events.
“This could add up to a lot of money,” Ash said.
Ash and City Manager Joe DiBartolomeo cited a Black Lives Matter rally held earlier this year in Weirton as an example, noting it would have cost rally organizers at least $7,000 had the ordinance been in effect at the time. DiBartolomeo explained the cost would have been a result of the number of police officers and fire personnel called in for overtime duty during the event.
The fee cap amendment passed by a 6-1 vote, with Ward 7 Councilman Terry Weigel voting against, citing a concern over providing such a cap for events organized by for-profit groups.
Ash’s third amendment was to remove council from the permit approval process, saying review and approval by department heads and the city manager should be sufficient. The amendment passed 6-1, with Ward 5 Councilwoman Flora Perrone voting against.
Ward 3 Councilman Fred Marsh also offered an amendment to change the effective date of the ordinance to Jan. 1, 2021. It was approved 7-0.
DiBartolomeo explained the ordinance came about after questions arose over the city’s existing event permit regulations, with Assistant City Manager DeeAnn Pulliam performing the majority of the research and development, patterning it primarily after regulations enacted in Martinsburg.
“We’re trying to document a little better,” DiBartolomeo said, noting the ordinance could be further amended if officials find aspects don’t work in Weirton.
Council also approved two resolutions, by unanimous vote, Wednesday. The first was an authorization for an agreement on the St. James Gate subdivision, which DiBartolomeo said was put together by the city and the subdivision’s developers. The second resolution was for a contract with Nautilus Insurance Co. for TankAdvantage Pollution Liability Insurance, at a cost of $2,470, with a $120.35 state surplus lines tax and a $175 filing fee. Utilities Director Butch Mastrantoni explained the policy has been in place for years for the city’s water and sanitary services.
Council also continued discussion on setting official trick-or-treating observances, saying a decision would be announced in the coming weeks, and DiBartolomeo announced the upcoming retirement of Deputy Chief Ricky Grishkevich from the Weirton Police Department.