Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
The City of Gardner discussed changing the special event temporary use code from a land code to a municipal code.
Gary Carson, resident, requested a special event permit during public comments and for council to consider granting a waiver at the May 3 council meeting.
Carson said he wanted to hold a special music event at CornerstonePark in mid-July.
“I was told citizens can’t rent the amphitheater,” he said.
Carson said they were expecting 130 people by invite only from 4 to 9:30pm to see three live bands.
“It won’t be as loud as bands at Festival of the Trails,” he said.
Jake Carmack, Accidental Project vocalist, said he had been helping Carson plan the event.
“It would be a celebration of getting past all the craziness,” he said.
Carmack said it would be an opportunity for Gardner to come out and enjoy listening to music from country rock, bluegrass and an electric banjo player.
Tory Roberts, council member, said she wanted to know if the city could make an exemption for a concert waiver.
Steve Shute, mayor, said he wanted to know what type of waiver.
David Knopick, community development director,  said waivers for events being requested become difficult because of the City’s Zoning codes.
Knopick said he understood the principal purpose of a park is for public use but bands and food trucks aren’t typical gatherings and would require a special event temporary use code that isn’t allowed in residential zoning areas in Gardner.
“We have to be consistent in applying it, and if we told folks no we have to be applying the same interpretation across the board,” he said. “How do we judge moving forward and differentiate.”
Roberts said could council decide if other people came to the event.
Knopick said establishing consistencies is important but each event is unique and you have to notify the city’s emergency services also.
Jim Pruetting, city administrator, said if the city makes an exception for Carson’s event and then someone else comes along with an event request that is denied the city has to be able to justify.
“We are thinking of taking the temporary use permit out of the land code and moving it to the municipal code,” he said.
Shute said Gardner isn’t as sophisticated as places like Kansas City Missouri for handling event fees, and live music is considered a nuisance per the code.
“That portion of the code hasn’t kept up with the community,” he said.
Jason Bruce, parks and rec director, said they couldn’t allow food trucks on city property without the city.
Knopick said they had issues of zoning and a parking policy that would also have to be mitigated.
Roberts said she wished they could come to a compromise.
Shute said the long term fix would be to use Knopick’s suggestion of setting up objective criteria for events.
“I don’t know how long that would take to change,” he said.
Knopick said Spring Hill, Olathe and Lenexa have special event permits that require insurance provided by the event organizer.
“It can’t get done in time for Carson’s event,” he said.
Pruetting said the other issue is it gives an open door for events and the c ity can’t restrict the content of the event for liability reasons.
Bruce said he had told Carson to reach out to the Johnson County Fairgrounds to hold the event.
Randy Gregoryck, council member, said he valued the process but wanted them to look at it from a tourism perspective in the future.
“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “In the short term it is a tough hill to climb.”
Gregoryck said he would suggest using and upgrading Celebration Park for ADA accessibility.
Shute said it comes back to the park master plan.
“We are currently in the middle of revamping it,” he said.
Mark Baldwin, council member, said he agreed he didn’t want to make an exception for the event, but it did sound like a cool event.
“We should start the long term event process as soon as possible,” he said. “I’d rather see it allowed and then we use criteria to how we shut it down.”
Kacy Deaton, council member, said anybody can use the amphitheater at the park but what would renting it out in the future look like.
Bruce said citizens can rent the shelter and use the park amenities.
Deaton said she wanted to know more about content restrictions for events in the long term.
Ryan Denk, city attorney, said content restrictions will get the city in trouble, and he would have to do some research.
“If you let Carson have his event then it is wide open for any type of events,” he said. “You’re sure ending the ability to regulate the nature of use.”
Shute said the consensus was to unlink the special event waiver from the land zoning code.
He said he would like to see a list of criteria with neutral content for traffic plans and capacity amounts and more.
“If 700 people jammed into Cornerstone Park it would be a mosh pit,” he said.
Baldwin said it was important to look at as many alternatives for criteria as possible.
Gregoryck said he wanted to know if Carson had been given alternative location options, and if they had been made clear to him.
Bruce said downtown accessibility is what Carson wanted for the event.
Knopick said the fairgrounds are zoned for an event.
Shute said they could talk to him about pushing the date out farther to put the pieces together to do the event.
Deaton said it was hard to set a deadline on because if the city told Carson to hold the event in late August and has spent the money on advertising etc. the city tabling it would make things difficult.
Baldwin said the city shouldn’t stick to a specific date and should work with Carson to make the event happen.
Shute said under the current regulations the event can’t be held at Cornerstone Park.

Other business:
-City Council passed an old business item adopting the amendment of Chapter 2.05040 of the Municipal Code for Governing Body Rules of Procedure.
-City Council passed a waiver of distance limitation to allow the sale of domestic table wine within 200 feet of a school, church or library during the weekly Thursday evening Farmer’s Markets from May 13 to September 2 2021.
Todd Winters, council member, said he wanted to know why specifically domestic table wine.
Sharon Rose, city clerk, said it was because of licensing.
Baldwin said it was because it was different than religious wine.