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Weirton Council amendments wise

Members of Weirton City Council made a wise decision Wednesday when they voted to amend a proposed ordinance that would have regulated special events and parades.

At issue was legislation that had been proposed during council’s meeting on Sept. 8. That ordinance would have required anyone who wanted to hold an event using public spaces to submit an application at least 60 days prior to the event and pay a nonrefundable $25 processing fee. It also would have required organizers of events that were approved to pay fees ranging from $30 per hour per firefighter to $150 per hour for firefighting equipment and medic units.

While well-intentioned, the proposal, in essence, would have made it nearly impossible for groups to hold community-oriented events.

That’s why amendments put forward by Ward 4 Councilman George Ash and Ward 3 Councilman Fred Marsh made a lot of sense. Ash’s amendments would waive fees for 501(c) entities, set a cap of $1,000 for all other entities and eliminate members of council from the decision process — leaving that to the city manager and department heads.

Marsh’s amendment set the effective date for Jan. 1.

Those changes mean the amended ordinance will now have a second reading Oct. 13. They also should allow groups and organizations in Weirton who plan major events to rest a little easier. The original ordinance was so restrictive, in fact, that if it had been allowed to pass as presented it would have cast doubt on the ability of the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce to present the city’s annual Christmas parade.

That event, and the holiday-themed activities that go along with it, help to present the city in a positive light to residents throughout the Tri-State Area.

We said a couple of weeks ago that establishing procedures that allow special events and parades to be held in the city is a good thing — it helps to ensure gatherings stay orderly, public safety is not compromised and reasonable costs associated with the presentation are covered.

The ordinance presented earlier his month, however, was poorly crafted and too restrictive.

Members of council made the right decision when they presented their amendments, and the resulting proposal, if passed, will allow events to continue to happen in a way organizers and city officials can live with.

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