Over the objections of Genoa residents and Candy Dance volunteers, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners rejected an ordinance that would have limited the number of outdoor special events, like craft fairs, to one every mile.
That would prohibit other Genoa fairs from being conducted during the historic Candy Dance, a fair that provides funding for the town. The ordinance, however, would affect the whole county, part of the objections raised during Thursday's lengthy debate.
"We have to look at how this ordinance would impact not only Genoa, but the whole county," said commissioner David Brady. "I look at the spirit of the law and this is a restraint of trade, an attempt to thwart competition.
"I can't support an ordinance with exclusive nature. That's bad law," he said.
Genoa residents say they foot the bills for other fairs that piggyback on their event and lower the quality of merchandise, thus discouraging high-end vendors and crafters from returning.
Interim Town Manager Sheryl Gonzales said the new ordinance would ensure one permit for each event.
"We have a small community with one intersection and 528 vendors," she said. "And 40 percent of those aren't town sponsored.
"Other (fair organizers) say they are contributing, but they aren't managing traffic," she said. "We paid for that. We are trying to manage the health, welfare and safety for all. We must do that as promoters, but we aren't getting contributions or support from other fairs to ensure that happens."
Genoan Martha Williams, owner of Antiques Plus and organizer of the Peddler's Fair that runs in conjunction with Candy Dance, said she's always had her own security, trash management and portable toilets.
"We run a nice fair," she said. "I've offered (the town of) Genoa my parking lot for the past six years and they always turned it down. They could have made $4,000 to $5,000."
Commission Chairman Kelly Kite said granting an exclusive permit may be constitutional, but that doesn't make it right. He suggested more stringent controls to distribute responsibilities more fairly. For example, leveling a find that would be double the cost of a permit for those who set up a booth without one.
"We're in the middle and neither side is right," he said. "There's got to be some place in the middle where all this fits."
The vote was 3-2, with commissioners Kelly Kite, David Brady and Doug Johnson voting to deny the ordinance. Commissioners Nancy McDermid and Jim Baushke voted to approve.
In other business:
n An outdoor festival application for the 88th Annual Genoa Candy Dance was subsequently approved for Sept. 27 and 28, but permits for the Genoa Peddler's Fair, Autumn Boutique at the White House and Gilles Menagerie, all in Genoa on the same date, were denied because their paperwork was incomplete.
The were asked to complete the paperwork and resubmit.
n Commissioner Kelly Kite became Chairman of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners Thursday, following the resignation of Commissioner Doug Johnson last month.
"There are a lot of reasons for my resignation, but I'm not just quitting," Johnson said. "I'll probably be more vocal and active as a regular commission member."