LISBON — Councilors on Tuesday approved the first reading of a proposed Mass Gathering Ordinance that would ensure public safety at special events.

Staff will continue to work on the Mass Gathering Policy and permit application process. The ordinance would go into effect this summer.

Clerk Lisa Ward told councilors about the process to develop the ordinance and policy, and meetings town staff had with town departments during the process.

People hosting a special event on town property expecting more than 100 people to attend or that would involve road closures would need to seek a permit under the Mass Gathering Policy, according to meeting documents. A permit would also be needed for ticketed events on private property where more than 250 people will attend for two hours or longer. The duration of an event in the proposed policy should not exceed 18 continuous hours.

Special events do not include gatherings for private events such as weddings on private property with less than 500 people attending, according to the meeting documents. Events with 1,001 attendees or more are considered major.

There would be a $35 nonrefundable deposit with the application, according to the documents. The proposed policy bases processing fees on the size of the event. The proposed breakdown is as follows:


• $50 for events with up to 250 attendees;

• $100 for events with 251-500 attendees;

• $150 for events with 501-1,000 attendees;

• $250 for events with 1,001-5,000 attendees;

• $500 for events with more than 5,000 attendees.

Applicants would need to provide a plan for traffic control at their expense, ensuring the safety of pedestrians and vehicles in and around the event, according to the documents. They would also need to submit information regarding the floor plan and layout of the event if it is inside a building or structure, including a tent.


Councilor Fern Larochelle asked about the minimum amount of notice required beforehand for large events in the proposed policy and if that wording could be modified so events that have a quick turnaround time will be able to be approved. He also had questions about the proposed permitting fee and shared concerns about adding significant costs to events with limited budgets.

The town can work with people but its responsibility is making things safe for the town and public, Ward said. She expects small changes to the proposed policy will be necessary within the first year or two.

Councilor Norm Albert wanted to know if the decision to develop an ordinance and policy now was data driven. Ward said it was not data driven.

Town Manager Glenn Michalowski said he has been noticing more events in town that are larger.

Albert wanted to know if the town will be able to gather data on how often large events are happening.

Ward said the policy would allow staff to see how many events are being applied for, how big they are and their impact.


Chief Ryan McGee said there have been multiple occasions where event organizers reached out to him asking about what is required for event safety, such as having a section of a road closed, and there was no information available to them regarding that process or what was necessary. The application process helps streamline this for the public and gives them an idea of what they will need.

Councilor Christine Cain had questions about the requirement in the proposed policy that the applicant must attest that they have done a background check on all of their employees involved in the event.

Ward said she understands that might seem like a deterrent to some but it is an important safety requirement and it is common in many other towns’ policies. An applicant does not have to show proof of employee background checks, just attest that they have done them.

Albert said the town needs to strike a balance between protecting the town and not placing requirements in the policy that might deter businesses from applying for a Mass Gathering Permit.

Ward said the town cannot put its safety at risk to ease the application process.

Chairman Harry Moore Jr. asked if there was wording in the policy or ordinance limiting what types of events can be held in town, such as events of a racist nature.

Ward said, like voting, she has to give everyone equal access.

Assistant Town Manager Sarah Bennett said the proposed policy requires that major events come in front of councilors for approval.

Councilors thought they had too many concerns with the proposed policy and application process to approve those agenda items Tuesday. Staff will continue to work on the policy and application process.

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