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Permits for rave parties tightened


Ravers, beware.

Baltimore County officials have revamped the permit process to give police and other officials better control over the all-night, teen-age dance parties.

"This will get a lot of people involved to make sure that these things are safe," said Michael M. Gimbel, director of the Office of Substance Abuse and a critic of a New Year's Eve rave at the Timonium Fairgrounds that drew 2,500 people.

At the direction of County Executive Roger B. Hayden, county agencies studied what happened that night.

Although police reported no problems at the party, Mr. Gimbel said he was concerned that teen-agers were drinking outside and that the darkened Cow Palace was dangerously crowded. He said partygoers easily could have fallen and been hurt or trampled in a fire.

One of the county's concerns was that Lonnie Fisher, the rave organizer, received a permit two days before the event by calling it a nonprofit gathering and pledging to donate 50 percent of the proceeds to charity.

To qualify for a nonprofit permit under the new procedure, all of the proceeds must go to charity, Mr. Gimbel said.

If an event is for profit, organizers must apply for a public exhibition license at least 30 days in advance, said Ted Zaleski Jr., director of Permits and Licenses.

To obtain that permit, organizers must complete a five-page application, and various county agencies, including the Fire Department, must approve the location.

Mr. Zaleski said the new application requires more information than the old one, such as the number of people expected to attend, security details and whether alcohol will be served. It reminds organizers that if alcohol is served, a temporary liquor license is required.

In the past, copies of permits were passed on to the police without details about the events. Now, Mr. Zaleski said, police will receive a copy of the five-page form.

"What we're doing is giving the Police Department more information," Mr. Zaleski said. "This will provide information to the police, but it won't necessarily stop [organizers] from getting a permit."

Mr. Gimbel said county officials were not targeting any particular rave organizer, but added, "I think the New Year's Eve event raised an issue that allowed the county executive to review the whole process."

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