By Jim Newell
There always is an abundance of events in downtown Lake Orion, and during its meeting on Monday the Lake Orion Village Council unanimously approved an amended application process for all would-be events in the village.
Now, any group that wants to hold an event in Lake Orion, even those groups who have previously held events in the village, will have to reapply each year and go through the approval process.
One of the key features that changed is that groups are now required to submit their event application packet 120 days before the date of their proposed event. Previously, there had been a 30-day requirement.
The extended application period gives the village more time to review the applications, make changes to the plans and hold public hearings.
Village Council President Ken Van Portfliet, who had advocated creating the events committee, requested that village administration notify all groups who have previously held events in Lake Orion of the new policies and procedures.
New Councilmember Jerry Narsh said the event application is “the best pre-event application process we’ve had in a long time.”
The village’s events committee submitted the revised events application – the fourth revision – to the council for consideration.
Another aspect of proposed events that will change is the cost. Previously, there was not an events application fee, and the Lake Orion DDA typically paid for police services for downtown events.
The events committee is currently working on a schedule of fees – such as application fees, costs for police and DPW services – for groups that wish to hold events in Lake Orion. The committee expects to have those fee recommendations to the council within a month or two, said village Manager Joe Young.
Councilmember Doug Hobbs raised a concern that some events, such as the proposed Polar Plunge, were advertising the events before the council had given approval.
The village council will hold a public hearing for the proposed Polar Plunge during its meeting beginning at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10 in Village Hall, 21 E. Church St.
The event, which benefits Special Olympics, is planned for Feb. 29 in the municipal lot off Shadbolt Street. The event application calls for closing the public lot from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Young said village administration would remind event applicants that they should wait for council approval before advertising their events.
Narsh pointed out that many event organizers, especially novice ones, simply begin advertising their event on social media to create interest and are often unaware that they should wait for official approval.
The village created the events committee last summer in response to the proposed Lake Orion Challenge, an event that rankled downtown business owners and managers, 40 of whom signed a petition asking the council not to approve the event.
Business owners said the sheer number of events – more than 20 – street and parking lot closures, especially on weekends, prevented customers from coming downtown and hurt their bottom lines.