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Annapolis council to weigh restrictions on downtown events

Annapolis officials plan to introduce a resolution at Monday night's city council meeting that would require council approval for special events at City Dock, following complaints from downtown business owners.

Annapolis Mayor Joshua J. Cohen, Aldermen Richard E. Israel and Ross H. Arnett III, all Democrats, have sponsored the resolution.

The issue came up last summer when a group of downtown business owners criticized the city for not better policing the festivals that take place in the city's historic district. Business owners have complained the festivals hurt their sales with loud music and a lack of parking for patrons.

The resolution would require groups to apply to hold events that would have an expected attendance of 1,000 or more per day, would require ten or more on-street parking spaces, would cause road closures of more than one block or would have to reimburse the city for services of $1,000 or more.

"The issue of special events at City Dock is many-layered," Cohen said in a statement. "It is taking some time to develop a policy framework that is sensitive to the needs of neighboring residents and businesses while also recognizing City Dock's importance to the broader community. This is a reasonable and responsible step to take in the meantime."

Under the proposal, only the council would be allowed to approve such events until a new policy is in place. Downtown Annapolis has long been a popular site for annual celebrations such as the Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival, held in honor of the enslaved African who was brought to the port in 1767 and was immortalized in the novel and TV series "Roots." The city also hosts Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association's Annapolis Race Week, a three-day sailing regatta at City Dock.

"It is imperative to get control of special events at City Dock," Israel said. "This moratorium will help us achieve this goal. It will also put pressure on the Council to come up with legislation to address this important issue."

"My sense is that we are being overwhelmed by special events," said Arnett. "This resolution is intended to help strike a balance while Council continues to grapple with creating a special event policy."


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