Grand County staff and commissioners continue to grind towards finalizing a new procedure for special event permit applications. The body postponed a decision to repeal and replace its current special events ordinance, but a majority agreed that they’re close enough to a final draft of the new process to warrant ending a moratorium on new ATV special events in the county.

The county has been trying to get a handle on special events for months, hoping to be more intentional in the variety and type of events it welcomes and how they’re spread out over the calendar. A Special Events Advisory Committee reviews applications and, if they’re deemed to have significant impacts, sends them on for consideration by the commission; this gives the commission more discretion on evaluating events.

The process thus far has resulted in confusion for some applicants and frustration for commissioners. Commissioners sometimes didn’t have a chance to review applications until just a few days before the event was scheduled to occur, by which point they felt obligated to approve the application.

The new procedure will allow commissioners to review an organizer’s “Intent to Apply” before applicants have committed to the full, time-and-resource-intensive application process. They’ll also be able to review several months worth of events all at once, offering a more comprehensive view of how events are clustered or distributed in time and space, as well as strive for a balanced variety of event types.

The procedure is still in need of final tweaks—for example, defining what exactly triggers an Intent to Apply being sent to the commission, and carving out exceptions for long standing events. Creating the schedule for quarterly applications and making it clear and comprehensible to applicants is also a challenge. The county is also striving to be as compatible as possible with permit parameters outlined by other agencies, particularly the Bureau of Land Manangement.

While the final version of the new process hasn’t been formally adopted, staff will begin using the new procedure as it undergoes final revision. In light of the new process, commissioners voted 4-3 to repeal a moratorium on new ATV events that’s been in effect for close to two years.

“With this new special event policy that’s gradually coming into effect, I think that gives a much more holistic and flexible way of dealing with noisy, disruptive events,” said Commissioner Kevin Walker. “I think the spirit of this ATV event moratorium is still in effect, it’s just we have a better way of implementing that policy now.”

Commissioners Evan Clapper, Josie Kovash, and Sarah Stock voted against repealing the moratorium.

Just after the agenda item on the ATV event moratorium, commissioners approved a special event permit for a Memorial Trail Ride at the Fallen Peace Officers Trail, an annual event honoring officers killed in the line of duty. The event had been scheduled for the spring, but was postponed when the county asked for conditions to be placed on it. The Memorial Ride involves all types of offroad vehicles, including Jeeps, motorcycles, and UTVs.

The event was approved 5-2, with commissioners Evan Clapper and Sarah Stock opposed.

Walker stated for the record that commissioners approved the event based on the following findings: the event is small, organizers agreed to trailer UTVs to the trailhead, the trail being used is not near residential neighborhoods, 100% of the proceeds are donated to charity, and the event has been going on for close to 10 years.

“It sounds like a great event,” Clapper said. “Because of the broader picture of what’s going on in the community, I’m not going to vote for it today. But it’s nothing about this individual event as much as sticking to policy.”