EDITORIAL: Keep Festivals Alcohol Free
It is difficult for us to believe that, for lo these many years, the City of Clinton has conducted special events without a Special Events Ordinance. The city has had many fine, detail-oriented city managers, and not one of them has ever said to the city council, “This city needs a good Special Events Ordinance”? Perhaps that’s because 99 percent of what’s in the proposed City of Clinton Special Events Ordinance is just common sense.
The city can order vehicles moved away from areas designated for special events. Common sense.
The city prohibits animals (other than service dogs) and fireworks from special events. Common sense.
But government has a tendency to inject itself into almost all aspects of our lives, usually with a fee attached. The government tells you when and where you can fish, with a fee attached. The government tells you when and where you can carry and fire a gun, with a fee attached. The government governs your driving, and the fuel for your vehicles – of course, with multiple fees attached. It’s a way to not charge as much in that other fee the government attaches – the taxes on “owning” our own property.
So there are multiple precedents for the City of Clinton to enact a Special Events Ordinance. The city offers special events; there should be a way to govern these gatherings, since the government governs everything else. The city can provide venues for others to offer special events – and this could be a money-maker for the city, since it seems determined not to construct and operate a recreational facility of its own (and cannot, by law – there’s that pesky government again – give money to other people that do operate recreation facilities). Build a special events venue with the money that has accumulated over, lo these many years, from the hospitality tax and charge a fee to use it.
Such a decision is well beyond what is before the full Clinton City Council next week. The council will be asked to give final approval to a Special Events Ordinance that, for the first time, provides a mechanism to set up and run beer and wine gardens in conjunction with city-sanctioned events. The city says this is not an alcohol ordinance, but most everything else in it is, well, common sense.
So, to us, alcohol is the issue. And people have spoken out, pro and con, on the issue, as is their right. We fully expect, and hope to see, people speaking out again on May 7 about this issue. That’s one thing the government has not yet imposed a fee upon – free speech.
We encourage the full city council not to adopt this proposed Special Event Ordinance in its present form. We encourage the city council to remove from the ordinance language that puts the permitting of alcohol at special events in the hands of the city manager. Not that the city manager is not capable of making the decision but rather, we believe, allowing and perhaps even encouraging the sale and consumption of beer and wine at city-sanctioned event will change the character of these events. There is no reason why Clinton cannot be different – “everybody else is doing it” is not a justification for anything. We can write language into this Special Events Ordinance that says “no alcohol is allowed” at city-sanctioned events (we would encourage a similar ban on smoking/vaping since people attending festivals should not be subjected to second-hand smoke).
Moral reasons for putting this ban into place have been set forth to the city council. We go at the decision from a “family-friendly” perspective, and we feel there is really no evidence that having alcohol would make our city events “better.” The fact that we can charge a fee to alcohol vendors is not spelled out in the ordinance, but we would suspect there is going to be a fee attached – there is for everything else. Are we selling our soul, our community conscience, for a few bucks a year? That, ultimately, is what the Clinton City Council is deciding.
MAIN STREET CLINTON ISSUES A CLARIFICATION OF CITY’S PROPOSED SPECIAL EVENTS ORDINANCE
Main Street Clinton is finishing up the first year of what Main Street South Carolina calls “boot camp”. One of the many benefits of being a Main Street community are the services provided during the “boot camp” period, which include reviewing programming and events.
As part of their review findings, Main Street South Carolina noted the City of Clinton does not currently have a special events ordinance and suggested the development of an ordinance in order to standardize events held in the community.
“Many South Carolina municipalities have a special events ordinance in place to be able to better facilitate, regulate, and supervise special events. It is not uncommon for a city to have such an ordinance. In fact, it is really is a good tool to ensure the safety of an event and to prevent liability at events held on city property,” explained Beppie LeGrand, Director of Main Street South Carolina.
Adele Alducin, Clinton’s Main Street Manager, agreed with Legrand’s statement and went on to say; “Having worked events for and with the city of Greer for over twenty years, I’ve seen firsthand not only the importance, but the necessity of having an event ordinance in place. I want to make sure everyone understands that this is NOT an alcohol ordinance, it is a special events ordinance to provide specific guidelines, standards, and allowances for special events held within the community on public and private city property.”
The intent of the proposed special events ordinance is to minimize any potential adverse impact of such special events, to ensure adequate public safety measures are in place, to provide for standardized fees and procedures required to administer the permit process, and of course, to provide cultural enrichment, promote economic vitality, enhance community identity/pride and provide opportunities for family activities and funding for our community’s businesses.
Clinton’s newly hired city manager Bill Ed Cannon, speaking in favor of the event ordinance, said, “Having a special events ordinance just makes sense from a safety standpoint and ensures we are properly notified of all events held on city property. By virtue of the fact that it is a reality that some folks and/or organizations will inquire about having alcohol at an event, this ordinance had to address alcohol to ensure we had enforceable guidelines in place should the organizer of an event request to have alcohol at the event.” Cannon went on to say,” having a special events ordinance covers many aspects of hosting a special event from requesting to host an event via a permit, noise control, location, dates, liter control, fireworks, animals, vehicles, and etc. The ability for an event organizer to request that alcohol be served is a very small piece of the special event ordinance and simply gives the city authority to accept or deny the request.”
Alducin encourages citizens concerned with this ordinance or have any questions they would like clarified, to discuss them with her.
Alducin said, “Having a special events ordinance in place doesn’t mean there will be alcohol served at any or all city events, it only means that an event organizer must make the request, the request will then be reviewed by city personnel and IF APPROVED, the event organizer must follow the guidelines set forth in the ordinance. Having this ordinance in place ensures knowledge, safety, and continuity for events by providing guidelines for all event requests to be channeled through one source, reviewed, permitted, and implemented via an official city established ordinance.”
The statement said City of Clinton is committed to ensuring that all events within the City limits are appropriately and consistently governed by rules, regulations, and ordinances that do not violate federal or state laws or regulations, and it is the responsibility of the organizer to ensure all applicable regulations, ordinances, state and federal laws are followed.
For additional information or questions please contact the Main Street office at 864.200.4507 or email firstname.lastname@example.org