An ordinance passed by the St. Clair Board of Aldermen on Monday night quickly could receive its first test this weekend.
The board unanimously created an ordinance establishing festival districts within city limits. The law allows Mayor Ron Blum to declare such a district at his discretion either for animal control or alcoholic beverage control purposes.
The ordinance became an agenda item after concerns earlier were brought to the board from two groups. Members of the St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce’s Merchants Committee, which sponsors September’s Main Street Festival, and the city’s park and recreation board, which puts on this weekend’s Freedom Fest, appeared before the aldermen during recent meetings and raised concerns about pets causing problems at these events.
“This is in response to requests for some kind of animal control in festival areas,” City Administrator Rick Childers told board members during Monday’s regular meeting. “If we create a festival district ordinance and then declare those districts, it becomes unlawful to have animals at those events.”
Childers also said the ordinance could place similar restrictions on alcohol.
“It’s a pretty straightforward ordinance,” he said. “It’s similar to what other municipalities in the county have.”
The ordinance states that “to promote the health, safety and welfare of festival participants, the board of aldermen desires to have restrictions in festival districts regarding animals and pets ... and deems it necessary to establish boundaries prohibiting the bringing of alcohol into a festival district.”
The ordinance goes on to state that the mayor may declare a festival animal district, a festival beverage district or both within the city limits and also declare a time period for it to be in effect.
The wording then states that when a festival animal district is declared, it will be “unlawful” to bring animals, including pets on leashes or other restraints, into the festival area.
As far as the festival beverage district, it will be “unlawful” to bring any alcoholic beverages not sold by providers holding proper liquor licenses into the festival area.
Individuals not adhering to the festival district law may be fined, jailed or both in accordance with Section 1-8 of the code of ordinances of the city of St. Clair.
Police Chief Bill Hammack said on Monday night he had not seen the ordinance and therefore preferred not to comment on it until after he had reviewed and researched it.
At the end of Monday’s meeting after the ordinance unanimously was supported by the three aldermen in attendance — Zach Fuchs, Barb McGlenn and Travis Dierker — Blum did declare a festival animal district on both Friday and Saturday during the city’s Freedom Fest.
The district was declared from 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday at Evergreen Park and from noon to midnight on Saturday at Orchard Park.
“We need to restrict animals in these parks within these time periods,” Blum said.