NEWBURYPORT — An ordinance adopted last year by the City Council updating rules for event planners in the city's municipal code went into effect New Year's Day.
The ordinance, which passed its second reading May 30, affects "road races, bike races, walkathons and other multi-disciplined events," and imposes a new requirement for event applications to be filed at least 60 days before their scheduled date to give neighbors, city officials and councilors adequate time to review and vet the event's potential impact.
The ordinance comes in response to concerns from residents and businesses affected by events in the past, according to Ward 1 Councilor Sharif Zeid, who co-sponsored the ordinance with Councilor at-large Joe Devlin.
In an email to The Daily News, Zeid noted that Newburyport is a popular place for events because of its historic neighborhoods, vibrant downtown and riverfront location but he stressed the need to consider the plight of residents and businesses who may be unfairly affected.
"Events are part of what make Newburyport really fun," Zeid said. "That being said, there can be neighborhood and business impacts when events come through and some neighborhoods and businesses are affected disproportionately because, for example, they may fall on a popular running route."
The ordinance also increases how much those organizing events have to get the word out to neighborhoods, and asks them to include provisions in their plans to funnel more participants into city parking lots instead of using street parking in neighborhoods. It also says the city clerk must notify all organizers of events held from 2014 to 2016 about the new application timeline and requirements.
Zeid pointed out a second amendment that went into effect upon passage during the council meeting Nov. 27, clarifying the expectation that event organizers adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Zeid said he believes the amendments will have a positive impact by informing residents about events sooner while preserving and increasing access for members of the community.
"I'll also work with the city clerk and Chair Devlin to get events the council approves posted to the city website calendar," Zeid said in the email. "I think going forward we need to leverage technology and social media to help notify residents and businesses of events we are approving (among other things). Communication is vital and can make all the difference."
The ordinance updating event rules: www.cityofnewburyport.com/sites/newburyportma/files/agendas/city_council_packet_05_30_17_2_reduced.pdf#page=110
The ordinance on the Americans with Disabilities Act: www.cityofnewburyport.com/sites/newburyportma/files/agendas/11-13-17_council_packet_reduced.pdf#page=107
Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.