Sussex adopts special events ordinance to better define uses, permitting

August 23, 2013

From lining up performers to portable toilets, putting on a festival, outdoor concert or other special event takes plenty of planning. Sussex County wants to make sure no detail is left unchecked, especially when it comes to public safety.

Sussex County Council, at its Aug. 20 meeting, adopted an ordinance that updates a section of county code to more broadly define special events, as well as reiterate rules for how organizers must obtain county approval before holding such mass gatherings. Special events include, but are not limited to, carnivals, festivals, concerts and races/walks.

Events lasting more than three days require conditional use approval from the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission and Sussex County Council; events lasting fewer than three days do not require a conditional use permit, but still need staff approval. All special events, regardless of duration, now would be subject to the Sussex County Special Event Policy to coordinate emergency services coverage, namely paramedics and emergency operations staff, if necessary.

County officials said the ordinance change, which takes effect immediately, was necessary to ensure a variety of temporary uses are meeting county code, and to help better coordinate public safety for events when thousands of people are gathered in a concentrated area.

“We want our residents and visitors to enjoy themselves when they experience the many festivals, events and seasonal attractions Sussex County has to offer,” Council President Michael Vincent said. “But behind the scenes, we have to make sure these events are properly permitted and coordinated so that the public’s interests are protected at all times.”

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