BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. – A special events permit could soon be required for hosting large events on Bethlehem Township property.
On Monday, the Bethlehem Township Board of Commissioners introduced an ordinance that would regulate special events on public and private property.
Under the ordinance, anyone wanting to hold an event or gathering of 25 or more people at one of the municipal parks would be required to apply for the permit. The application would have to be submitted 60 days prior to the event.
The types of activities that would require special events permits include assemblies, block parties, carnivals, parades, street fairs and craft shows that take place on township streets, sidewalks, and other properties and that interfere with pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
Municipal parks that would fall under the ordinance requirement are Bethlehem Township Municipal Park, Bethlehem Township Municipal Park North, The Janet Johnston Housenick & William D. Housenick Memorial Park, Birchwood Park, Comer Park, Chetwyn Terrace Park, and 14th Street Park.
A review committee would also be established in order to review the applications for approval or disapproval. That committee would be comprised of township employees including the township manager, codes enforcement officer, fire marshal, and police department. Decisions on the permits would be made within 15 days prior to the proposed event.
An application fee for the permit will be based on the township fee schedule. The charge would defray administration costs of reviewing the application.
Residents who do not obtain proper permits would be fined anywhere between $100 to $1,000. The exact amount of that fine would be determined by a district judge.
Officials said there are a few exceptions for which special event permits will not be required. Funeral and wedding processions, outdoor and indoor scholastic or non-scholastic athletic events, activities of governmental agencies, any special event sponsored by the township, and First Amendment activities will not be required to apply for the permit.
Additionally, fundraising events hosted by or benefitting The Archie Project will be exempt from the special events permit when they occur at Housenick Memorial Park.
"The Archie Project specifically exists to renovate the Johnston mansion," said Commissioner Malissa Davis. "Although it's not an entity of the township it is closely related and the only thing they can do is raise funds for the township."