The Grand County Commission has been reconsidering its special events permit process for months, working to streamline it and establish a way to evaluate events and approve those that bring the most benefit to the community.
In Grand County, special events used to be approved by a committee of representatives from departments concerned primarily with the safety and logistics of events, rather than the event’s character, impact or community benefit.
A couple of years ago, the commission changed the composition of the special events committee to include elected officials along with department heads.
“In that same update, we empowered the [county] commission to review more special event permit applications and we provided a little bit more information about what you wanted to see,” County Attorney Christina Sloan reminded commissioners at the June 7 meeting of the Grand County Commission. For example, the commission placed a moratorium on new special events based around UTVs.
In the current process, organizers must invest a lot of time into completing an application before it goes before the commission for evaluation. There are currently no clear guidelines for vetting special events earlier in the application process.
“What we want to talk about today is, what would the commission like to see in these review guidelines?” Sloan asked.
The commission considered a list of possible criteria that could be used to evaluate an event, including size and density, compatibility with its location, noise levels, benefit to charitable causes and/or to the community, and economic impacts.
Commissioners also said they would give weight to long-running events in good standing with the county, such as Jeep Safari and the Moab Half Marathon.
Commissioner Kevin Walker suggested that instead of considering special event applications on a first-come, first-serve basis, the county could have a quarterly review of all applications and give preference to the most desirable events.
“This isn’t the 1980s; we can afford to be choosy about events,” Walker said. “I think there’s more demand for special events in the Moab area than we have weekends available.”
Commissioner Sarah Stock said she supports a ranking system that allows the commission to favor events that benefit the community and promote diversity.
“I’d like to see some kind of prioritized ranking where we can say, ‘oh, this is good for community benefit because it serves minority populations,’” Stock said.
The commission created a subcommittee composed of commissioners Trish Hedin, Josie Kovash and Evan Clapper, along with members of the current special events committee, to identify which items are most important to the commission in approving or denying an event application.
The commission also considered putting all special event permitting under the purview of the Old Spanish Trail Arena department, as director Angela Book helps applicants through the process for events based at the arena. Kovash said that if a special events coordinator position were to be created, that person might in the future also develop local events along with approving applications.
“If we’re not getting certain kinds of events that we want to see more of, rather than wait for it to come to us, we can actually develop those in-house,” Kovash said.
The Grand County Commission meets on the first and third Tuesday of every month at 4 p.m. Meetings are streamed online at the Grand County Youtube channel. Schedules, agendas and opportunities for public comment can be found at www.grandcountyutah.net. Residents can email email@example.com to automatically reach each County Commission member, the commission administrator, the associate commission administrator, and the county attorney.