Saturday, January 28, 2023

JCC Supes OK Plan to Ease Permitting Process for Outdoor Events

Bryan Hill
Bryan Hill

Planning an outdoor event like a race, parade or a festival in James City County requires a little less running around thanks to a new ordinance passed unanimously Tuesday by the county’s board of supervisors.

The new ordinance consolidates the review of applications for permits to hold those outdoor events and any others anticipated to attract at least 200 attendees under the banner of the county administration.

Previously, event planners had to file applications at disparate offices around the county.

The supervisors passed the ordinance change with no discussion Tuesday after a public hearing in which nobody spoke.

“James City County is becoming a venue of choice for a variety of events including outdoor gatherings, festivals, sporting events and road races,” Administrative Coordinator Beth Klapper told the board Tuesday, noting county staff researched how other municipalities where such events take place handle the permitting process to craft the new ordinance.

The county is preparing to host numerous events later this year, such as the Cap2Cap bicycle ride on the Virginia Capital Trail in May and the Bountiful Brews and Bites festival at Jamestown Beach Park in November.

County Administrator Bryan Hill said Wednesday that applicants will bring their proposals to the county’s planning division, which in turn will send it to all the various local offices that have to sign off, including the police and fire department.

The change creates what Hill called a “one-stop shop” instead of the need to go to offices spread out across the county.

“I think it’s a great collaborative effort throughout my departments, trying to make it easier for the residents and to spur tourism,” he said. “You don’t want folks running around trying to figure out what to do. We saw this as a process we could make better and more efficient for our customers.”

The change to the ordinance still requires applicants to seek out special permits from outside agencies if needed, such as a special event license from the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control or a temporary restaurant permit from the Virginia Department of Health.

While most outdoor events featuring 200 or more people require the permit, some do not, such as funeral processions or processions by the military. It also does not apply to events held on land specifically designated for events, like the Warhill Sports Complex or the Warhill Trail. Yard sales are also exempt.

Applications must be filed with the county at least 90 days before the event is supposed to be held.

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