The five-page application for the proposed permit for “road races, parades or public assemblies that would burden the public properties and roadways in Columbia County” seems overly bureaucratic, said Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross, as is the requirement that race organizers apply 45 days in advance.
Officials discussed the rules during the Community and Emergency Services Committee meeting Tuesday and decided to send it to next week’s commission meeting for debate.
“I just hope there’s some way to condense it so that we don’t get into more delays,” Cross said. “I’m concerned about the time; 45 days to me seems like a long time.”
The number of departments having to sign off on the applications troubled Cross, too.
“We’ve got too many regulations, as far as I’m concerned, on everything,” Cross said. “I just hate to create another layer here. I think we need something… but I wish we could just make it really simple.”
County Administrator Scott Johnson said the ordinance formalizes what the county already follows and puts in writing a plan to help keep the county from scrambling to accommodate last-minute requests for road closures.
“It’s not an attempt to hinder or create more bureaucracy,” Johnson said. “It’s a method for us to know the cost that’s going to be involved,” and to make sure the race pays for those costs rather than taxpayers.
One of the major events likely to be affected is the annual Jingle Jam 10K that shuts down portions of streets near Evans Towne Center Park.
“We already work with the county now,” said Goldei Limbaugh, Jingle Jam’s organizer, adding that the run’s board and volunteers are able to handle any new requirements.
The organizers expect to pay any costs associated with keeping the route safe for participants, she said.
“One thing we learned in Boston, safety is No. 1,” Limbaugh said. “If I can keep my spectators safe, if I can keep my volunteers safe, if I can keep my runners safe, that’s all that matters.”