BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. – A permit will now be required for anyone who hosts a large event on Bethlehem Township property.
On Monday, the Bethlehem Township Board of Commissioners unanimously approved on second reading an ordinance that will regulate special events on public and private property.
"This is just an ordinance to try and keep a handle on some of the special events that pop up in the township periodically," said President Michael Hudak.
Under the ordinance, anyone wanting to hold an event or gathering of 25 or more people at one of the municipal parks will be required to apply for the permit. The application will have to be submitted 60 days prior to the event.
An application fee for the permit will be based on the township fee schedule. According to the township, the charge is meant to defray administration costs of reviewing the application.
Residents who do not obtain proper permits will be fined anywhere between $100 to $1,000. The exact amount of that fine will be determined by a district judge.
The types of activities that will 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.
A review committee will also be established in order to review the applications for approval or disapproval. That committee will consist of township employees including the township manager, codes enforcement officer, fire marshal, police department, and public works department. Decisions on the permits will be made within 15 days prior to the proposed event.
Municipal parks which fall under the ordinance requirement are Bethlehem Township Municipal Park, Bethlehem Township Municipal Park North, Janet Johnston Housenick & William D. Housenick Memorial Park, Birchwood Park, Comer Park, Chetwyn Terrace Park, and 14th Street Park.
Officials said there are a few exceptions for which special event permits will not be required. Those include 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.
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.