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Sussex councilman questions special-events policy

County attorney says Hudson Fields concert organizers have permit
June 5, 2017

Story Location:
Coastal Highway
Lewes  Delaware
United States

Sussex County Councilman George Cole, R-Ocean View, wants to know when a special event becomes something more.

Specifically, he is referring to five concerts scheduled at Hudson Fields this spring and summer. Cole questioned whether the organizers should file a conditional-use application to operate the new concert series on the 18-acre parcel of AR-1, agricultural-residential, zoned land.

Assistant county attorney Vince Robertson told Cole that event organizers had followed procedure to receive a special-events permit from the county's planning and zoning office.

“I want more information. At what point does it become a permanent event?” he asked.

According to the county's policy, special events not exceeding three days are not subject to the conditional-use process.

Debate on the matter was cut short because it was not on council's May 23 agenda, but it has been placed on the Tuesday, June 6 agenda. Cole said a resident who lives near the parcel contacted him with concerns.

The first concert in the Highway One series on June 1 featured Old Dominion. Two more concerts are scheduled in June, one in July and another in September.

Hudson Fields has hosted concerts in the past and has a long history of providing fields for sporting events. A benefit Foodie Fest is entering its second year at the location. The fields, which also include a grass airport, are located on Route 1 about two miles north of the Nassau bridge between Lewes and Milton.

Under the county's special-events policy, which has been in place since 2013, each event is reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether it requires paramedics and dispatchers, and whether or not it requires a conditional-use application based on the county's land-use code.

Event organizers are required to fill out an application with the county's special operations coordinator to determine the level of public safety support and potential costs.

While most nonprofit, community events are not charged for county services, events that are sponsored by for-profit organizations or companies, or when there is a charge for attendance are required to pay. The county charges $60 an hour for each paramedic, $40 an hour for each dispatcher and $40 an hour if the mobile command unit is on location.

Factors used by the county to determine coverage include the type of event, anticipated attendance, location, history of previous events at the site, proximity to a hospital and the duration of the event.

Until the policy was adopted four years ago, services were provided free of charge even if additional staff was required to be paid overtime. Over the years, the county has provided coverage to as many as 150 events annually ranging in scope from small health fairs to large events such as World Championship Punkin Chunkin.

 

See the county's special events policy at:

https://www.sussexcountyde.gov/sites/default/files/PDFs/SCSpecialEventPolicy-Approved.pdf

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