NORWAY – Police Chief Rob Federico has proposed an ordinance that would give the town some control over large, outdoor festivals.

“We really don’t have anything in place,” Federico told selectmen Thursday night as he presented his proposal. “It’s just a matter of time before something like that came to Norway.”

He mentioned the 1988 Grateful Dead concert at Oxford Plains Speedway, which attracted an estimated 100,000 fans over July 4 weekend, created a big traffic snarl and left litter strewn about the area. Three months later, Oxford residents adopted a mass gathering ordinance by a vote of 170-26.

Federico studied similar ordinances from other Maine towns, saying his proposed law was “the least restrictive ordinance I can find.”

Some of the law’s requirements demand that the person seeking the license file an application 45 days in advance, pay a nonrefundable $100 application fee, and submit to a public hearing. They would also have to provide adequate security guards, sanitary waste facilities, first-aid stations, water supplies and off-street parking. Also required in Federico’s draft is proof of the landowner’s permission.

And all litter has to be picked up within 24 hours of the event’s close, according to the proposed regulations.

It was unclear whether the ordinance could be applied to the most recent controversial outdoor event, Fudafest. Aaron Fuda, a pro-marijuana activist, has for years hosted a three-day “fully unclothed activism festival” in July on his McKay Road property.

This September, selectmen found that Fuda had violated the town’s disorderly house ordinance because police had to return repeatedly after receiving calls from neighbors complaining of noise.

Federico’s ordinance, which is subject to revision after a public hearing and would need approval by residents at town meeting, is applicable only to events that expect to attract 250 or more people.

Also exempt are town-organized events.

“It isn’t to prevent him from doing what he wants,” Federico said, referring to Fuda. He said that he also does not know how many people have attended past Fudafests.

“In a town that is growing and an area that is growing, it’s just a matter of time,” before a large outdoor concert comes to town, Federico said.

Town Manager David Holt gave his approval. “This issue has been divisive for a long time,” Holt said, so divisive that it once created a tense rift between former selectmen. “I think this is a reasonable response to the issue.”

Selectmen voted unanimously to accept the ordinance for the next town warrant but only after a public hearing to discuss and possibly modify it.


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