New rules could put brakes on races in Columbia County

Columbia County officials could put the brakes on a few races with a proposed ordinance.

Set for discussion today during the Com­munity and Emergency Services Committee meeting, the proposal would require permits and fees for “road races, parades or public assemblies that would burden the public properties and roadways in Columbia County,” according to committee documents.

The ordinance generally would apply to any event that closes public access to streets.

“The issue we’re having is we’re beginning to get more and more requests for these type of races,” particularly 5K fundraiser runs and charity bike rides, said Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson. “But what’s happening is organizers are organizing the races, determining their own routes and then coming to the county and saying, ‘We need such-and-such road shut down.’ ”

One recent 11-hour request, for example, would have cost the county an estimated $2,500 to rent traffic barrels and would have required employees to block off parts of major highways for a race that would have netted organizers about $5,000, Johnson said.

“One reason it’s almost all profit is the county is taking it on the chin,” he added.

Events that could be affected by the ordinance include everything from the annual Merchants Association Christmas parade to the Jingle Jam 10k.

The ordinance, which requires 45-day notice for such events, “is not an attempt to stop anything,” Johnson said.

“It’s more for our own awareness, budgeting and planning purposes,” he said.

The committee meets at 9 a.m. today at the Evans Government Center Auditorium.

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