Protocol Established for Common Use Permits

by June Pichel Cook

CRAFTSBURY – The sound of militias’ training and cows bellowing have long disappeared from the Common, though the church spire, white fences, stately homes, and gazebos still paint a quintessential New England scene. The bucolic farmers’ market, concerts, Antiques and Uniques, Old Home Day, Craftsbury Academy ice cream socials and graduations, and other festivities now bring the community together in new ways.

In earlier times, a Little League diamond had a place on the Common. Recently, the diamond was resurrected through the generosity of an anonymous donor. Due to renewed interest in how the Common is utilized, the select board implemented protocols and a permitting process.

At its meeting last week, the board voted to establish the Town Common Permit process. The permit policy is a procedure for groups to reserve use of the Common on a first-come, first-served basis. It establishes guidelines to ensure activities do not cause harm or damage to the Common and are carried out in a way that ensures public health and safety.

The permit is not an endorsement by the town of any policies, activities, or points of view expressed by the group or person(s) seeking permission. The board may deny or withdraw permission to use the Common to any group or individuals that fail to comply with the town’s policies and procedures.

To secure a permit, the organization or individual must submit a request to the town clerk including the type and date of the event, individual or entity making the request, time period the Common will be used, and a contact person with email address, mailing address, and telephone number.

Requests are placed on the board’s agenda for consideration and must be received by Friday at noon the week prior to the board’s Tuesday meetings. The board meets the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 7 p.m. in the town hall and via Zoom.

Guidelines that if live or recorded entertainment, food, or alcohol is involved, the applicants must have all required permits and proof of insurance. Applicants are responsible for preserving order and safety of those attending and pay all costs associated with any police detail. Applicants must ensure no illegal activity occurs during an event and that the activity does not result in a public nuisance through unreasonable levels of noise or other disturbance.

No permanent fixtures to the town’s property are allowed, but temporary placement of equipment and furniture for the event is permitted providing it does not damage town property. The site must be well-maintained at all times, including restoration or repair if damage occurs to town property.

Applicants must remove all trash and debris from the site at the conclusion of the event, and any equipment or furniture left behind shall be removed and disposed of by the town at its discretion. Costs incurred by the town must be reimbursed by the applicants.

A release states that applicants must agree they are using and occupying the site at their own risk and agree not to sue the town. The permit allows the town to impose other necessary conditions to protect public health, safety, and welfare.

The permit lists the following contacts to see if concurrent events are occurring that may limit parking: Craftsbury Academy, Sterling College, United Church of Craftsbury. The Village Improvement Society contact is Harry Miller at hhmillerbuilder@yahoo.com.

Permits may be denied if the application is incomplete, if there was a violation of terms of a prior permit, or if the proposed event presents an unreasonable danger to public health or safety. An application may be denied if the proposed date and time conflict with a prior event planned by the town or a permit had been granted to an earlier applicant for the same date and time.