Casper City Council Tries Again to Revise Parade, Event Permit Process
The Casper City Council at a work session on Tuesday said it again will propose a revision to the ordinance about how groups can request special event and parade permits.
Confusion over the process erupted in early May when the sponsors of the annual motorcycle awareness parade had it suggested to them by the Casper Police Department to change their route, not wear club insignia, and to obtain insurance.
One resident, Paul Paad, repeatedly spoke to the council and questioned the need for insurance. He also pointed out apparent contradictions between the ordinance about parades and the requirements for permits for special events.
A concern raised at the Aug. 6 council meeting noted the shorter deadlines of filing an application for a small event could preclude the timely appeal of a parade permit that was denied by the police department, according to the agenda for the work session.
As a result, the council proposed shortening the department's time to review a permit to two days. If the department denied the parade permit application, it must notify the organization within three days, which would start a 20-day period for it to appeal the denial.
However, City Attorney John Henley said two days may be too little time for the police department to decide if a parade could cause problems with a route or if enough officers were available to provide security.
Police Chief Keith McPheeters said he'd prefer a five-day window for making decisions about permits, even though most of them are fairly simple and routine.
"I've signed three of these today," McPheeters said.
The department is acutely aware of parade organizers' needs to make plans, he added.
The proposed ordinance would set in stone these and other details about the application and appeal process, but two council members said there was a way to deal with that.
Instead of putting those details in the ordinance, they could be put in the special events planning guide, Mike Huber and Steve Cathey said.
That way, the guidelines could be changed without having to rework the entire ordinance, they said.
Henley said proposed ordinance needs some further editing, especially with squishy language about whether a parade or event may "not be in the best interest of the city."
Council member Khrystyn Lutz asked whether parades could include protests because the language of the ordinance was that broad.
Henley said that was true, but the city would be treading on shaky legal ground if it questioned the content of a parade and/or protest.
The proposal could be presented for a first reading at the council's regular meeting next Tuesday, or it could be considered again at a work session in two weeks, Henley added.
McPheeters said the police department is not in the business of denying permit applications, and it may need to talk to the organization about issues such as the practicality of a parade route and how it may affect others who use the city's streets.
"I have to make sure I'm meeting public safety rules," he said.