The Board of Supervisors at its meeting Wednesday discussed the possibility of adopting regulations for special events on public property.
In August, State College borough adopted its Special Event Ordinance, which establishes a “criteria and procedures for applying for and approval of a special event permit granted by the borough.”
Patton Township Manager Doug Erickson said in light of what happened in Charlottesville, Va., the township may want to consider regulations.
Jeff Luck, board vice chairman, said he wouldn’t have any objection to an ordinance similar to the borough’s.
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“I wonder how constitutional the borough’s ordinance was,” said Supervisor George Downsbrough. “Last time I read Amendment I of the Bill of Rights, right of assembly, it was a right that was guaranteed in that amendment.”
He noted that the borough’s ordinance states that it is not to interfere with any constitutionally protected activities.
The borough’s ordinance may be a little overly “stringent,” Downsbrough said.
This wouldn’t limit or inhibit a spontaneous gathering, Luck said.
But it could, Downsbrough said, depending on how it’s implemented.
This type of policy is present all throughout Pennsylvania, said township solicitor Elizabeth Dupuis.
“What a lot of these permits have done is enable the legislative body to allow your right to speech, but put it in a place that is not going to interfere with the day-to-day operations of either the municipal building that you’re in front of or the street,” she said.
If it’s a public safety issue, the township has a right to manage that even if it’s on public property, Dupuis said, adding that she doesn’t think there’s anything legally problematic in the ordinance.
Erickson said he’ll work on developing an ordinance for the supervisors’ review, taking into consideration the borough’s ordinance and the parts of it that aren’t relevant to the township.