120 days notice to be enforced for event applications
By Megan Kelley
LAKE ORION — During its meeting on Jan. 9, Lake Orion’s village council discussed and reviewed their current event application procedures and decided that all event applicants would have to follow new guidelines.
The council then unanimously approved a motion making 120 days a requirement for all event applications.
For several years now, the village has required applications be submitted 120 days prior to the event to provide adequate time for the council to review and approve applications. The council also does not currently have an application fee in place.
Downtown Lake Orion has become a hub for events including several recurring events like the Lighted Christmas Parade, Dragon on the Lake, the Lion’s Club Jubilee and the Flower and Art Fair but over the past several years, new events have caused business owners to raise concerns about timing, road and parking lot closures and overall lack of communication regarding events from both the Downtown Development Authority and village administration.
In order to combat this, several years ago an events committee was formed to review the event application procedures going forward. Council President Jerry Narsh and President Pro-Tem Teresa Rutt were both a part of that committee.
The main issue however, is that despite the council requiring applications to be submitted 120 days prior to the event, some events fail to do so and are approved by the council anyway, sometimes in less than 30 days.
According to Narsh, several groups and organizations have approached him to discuss the application deadline, saying that it was too far out for them to get commitments from vendors or bands.
Because of this, Narsh suggested that recurring events with no changes submit their application 90 days ahead of time while new events (those formed within the last two years) stay within the 120-day submission deadline.
Narsh also included that every event be posted in the council meeting agenda and on the village website.
Rutt echoed Narsh’s comments, saying that she would be open for a 90 day requirement but only for recurring events that do not have any significant changes.
“We had issues with different events submitting their events 30 days before and we look at it and we think ‘This can’t happen in this way, it’s down to the wire’ and they’re advertising everything without it actually being approved. This provides enough time for it to be approved and advertised with the approval,” Rutt said. “Even if they don’t know the specific band, they can still put their application in and say ‘Hey, we’re working on the band, this is the plan.’ We don’t necessarily need to know what the band is.”
While the events committee is no longer meeting, Rutt added she would like for event information to be sent out to those who were previously on the committee, which included several downtown business owners, just to get their input.
Councilmember Sarah Luchsinger, who had owned and operated a business in downtown Lake Orion when the events committee was created, agreed with Rutt but added that 120 days was relatively generous and that it “really should be 180 days.”
“Just for a little perspective from a business owner downtown; when there is an event and the roads are closed and there is a lot of traffic, people will bypass (the downtown businesses). And if that’s on a weekend, you’re taking away opportunity of a weekend sale,” Luchsinger said. “We were starting to have events that were closing down, not even the main streets but a couple of streets or parking lots. People have other options and I know the pandemic really brought people’s focus back to community focus and buying local but people have other options and it’s called Amazon and they will go by us.”
Luchsinger said that 120 days also shows a mutual respect between people who work and pay taxes downtown and people who want to use the downtown space for an event.
Councilmember Michael Lamb said people who don’t meet the application deadline should be charged.
“I’ve been here two years now and I don’t think we’ve ever denied an application, whether it was on time or late,” Lamb said. “I have a suggestion: since nobody follows the rules anyway and we have late applications, why don’t we allow the 120 days to stay the same, everyone knows what that is, and then when people come in late, charge them a late application fee.”
According to the village attorney Mary Kucharek of Beier Howlett, in order to charge a late application fee, the village would have to demonstrate that it actually does cost the village more when applications are late.
Village Manager Darwin McClary also informed the council that waiving fees for charities was “probably not something we can do” saying they either have to charge everyone or don’t charge anyone.
Despite three councilmembers and McClary suggesting 120 days for new events, Councilmember Ken Van Portfliet put forth a motion requiring all events, both new and recurring, to submit an application 90 days prior to the event.
With no second to the motion, the motion failed and gave Rutt the opportunity to make her own motion requiring all new events (within the past two years) be submitted 120 days prior to the event date and recurring events be submitted 90 days prior with all events being brought to the village council for approval.
Additionally, the motion would direct village administration to review application fees and bring a recommendation back to council.
The motion was seconded by Luchsinger.
There was additional discussion about whether or not to require organizations to give a presentation to the council on their event but McClary assured the council he would require event organizers do so anyway.