HAVERHILL — Neighborhood complaints about large events at Kimball Farm on East Broadway have city officials on the verge of creating tougher rules and new fees for groups to hold outdoor festivals, public shows and other organized gatherings.
Mayor James Fiorentini and police Chief Alan DeNaro urged City Council to pass the new rules at Tuesday’s council meeting, but councilors opted to instead review the measure at a public meeting before voting.
Councilor Colin LePage said he will schedule a meeting of the council’s Administration and Finance Committee in the next few weeks to debate the proposal and allow the public a chance to weigh in on it.
The proposed fees range from $50 for an event that draws fewer than 100 people to $500 for an event that expects more than 1,000 people to $2,500 for an event with more than 5,000 people. The council would have the authority to waive the fees for some nonprofit, religious and city groups.
The mayor and police chief said the existing ordinance covering outdoor events is outdated and does not provide sufficient safeguards for public safety or require neighborhood notice.
City officials said existing rules, in most cases, don’t require a license from the council or notification of neighbors unless the group hosting the event charges an admission fee. Even when an admission fee is charged, many groups holding events have not been applying for licenses nor notifying neighbors, officials said.
Fiorentini’s proposal would amend the existing ordinance by requiring council approval for outside events, neighborhood notification and in some cases a public hearing. The mayor said the fees are designed to pay for police and other city services that are required for large events.
“Either the event organizers pay for the services or the taxpayers do,” the mayor said.
Fiorentini and City Solicitor William Cox pushed the council to adopt the new ordinance prior to two large events this weekend at Kimball Farm. The Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce’s KidsFEST festival is scheduled for Sunday and a festival called Hog Wild that is expected to draw 1,500 spectators and participants is Saturday.