Southold Town sets hearing for special events permit law

Southold’s long-awaited special events permit law is ready for its big public debut.

The proposed law, which gives the town broader authority over controlling special events, is slated for a public hearing on Tuesday, May 22, at 4:30 p.m. in the Town Hall meeting room.

It was first proposed more than a year ago due to a boom in large-scale events that accompanied the North Fork’s growing appeal as a tourist destination.

Under the town’s current code, organizers of events with more than 50 attendees on public property and organizers of for-profit events at wineries at which attendance exceeds building capacities are required to obtain a permit and pay a $50 fee.

The new law would require permits for any gathering that exceeds a building’s occupancy or parking capacity or is not permitted by zoning, if the event includes the closing of a public street, the use of amplified sound, the sale of food or merchandise, the placement of portable toilets or several other disturbances.

The permit fee would be determined on a sliding scale based on the number of anticipated attendees. At the low end, a $250 permit would be required for events with up to 250 attendees, while permits for events expecting attendance of 1,000 or more would pay a $650 permit fee. Permit applications would need to be submitted 60 days prior to the event.

The town’s Zoning Board of Appeals would administer the permits, as it does now. Events on town property or exceeding 1,000 attendees would also be subject to Town Board approval.

If the law is approved, event organizers who don’t get permits will pay fines ranging from  $500 to $1,000.

The law comes in response to concerns that there are few controls covering a growing number of non-farming events at wineries and other agricultural properties.

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