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Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima vetoes new Special Event Ordinance at request of WDBA leaders

Says language is "vague" and needs to be clarified

Feb. 8, 2013

At the request of the leaders of the downtown Waukesha Business Association’s Friday Night Live committee, Mayor Jeff Scrima has issued a “friendly veto” on the recently approved Special Event Ordinance.

Scrima outlined in his veto message the parts that the Friday Night Live committee took issue with.

One part of the ordinance states: “The time, size and nature of the Special Event shall not create an undue hardship or unduly interfere with residents and commercial and business activities in the closed area or the immediate vicinity thereto.”

Before the Council approved it this week, Roger Igielski, president of the Downtown Business Association, questioned that statement.

“How will that be determined?” said Igielski, owner of Allo! Chocolat in downtown Waukesha. “For example, if I believe that the Christmas parade street closing hurts my business, will my opinion cancel the event? I assume not, but there needs to be guidelines added to this statement for clarification.”

City Attorney Curt Meitz said “undue hardship would not be implemented on one noise complaint."

But Scrima said the language is too vague and that it needs to be improved to avoid arbitrary and subjective decisions.

“The next city attorney might misinterpret the wording and bring about refusals when met with the relentless complaints of a few,” Scrima said.

The Friday Night Live summer concert series (that has musical acts in front of downtown businesses Friday nights from the beginning of June until the end of September) has been at the center of controversy for the last couple of years when Waukesha police decided to close selected downtown streets due to safety precautions.

Some property owners have voiced their opinions about the street closures. They say on those Friday nights it's difficult for customers to get to their businesses, that the amount of dates should be limited and that the event could be restructured.

Advocates of Friday Night Live, however, say that the concert series should be more embraced because it brings foot traffic to downtown and has helped revitalize the area.

“In agreement with their request, I elect to exercise my mayoral friendly veto option in hopes of better ordinance clarity and that future events in our city will be run with greater success and efficiency,” Scrima said.

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