North Bergen moves to amend parade regulations

The proposed changes are a response to the impact parades have on township resources and local business

Mayor Nicholas Sacco marches with Gov. Phil Murphy and other officials in the State Hispanic Parade in 2021. Photo courtesy of the town.

North Bergen is thinking about amending its regulations regarding parades. Mayor Nicholas Sacco and the North Bergen Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to introduce an ordinance at its June 8 meeting that would do so.

According to the ordinance, a parade is defined as an assemblage of 25 or more persons engaged in a march, ceremony, show, exhibition, or procession of any kind or duration, with or without vehicles or other means of conveyance, along a pubic street or highway, park, or other public place in the township following a certain route, whether predetermined or not.

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Reasons behind the changes

The township is contemplating the move for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is a significant cost to the township for police and Department of Public Works personnel when there is a parade, according to the ordinance. Police officers are required to provide traffic control and otherwise protect the public during parades. There is also parade planning that the police perform prior to the parade.

The Department of Public Works must also, under the direction of the police, deploy and assign personnel to certain vehicles to perform necessary sanitation and clean up during and after the parade. These costs to the township, which are funded by the taxpayers, should be fairly offset by the parade organizers, according to the ordinance.

When a parade occurs, the businesses located near the parade route are significantly impacted because customers cannot get to the businesses and cannot park near the the businesses due to street closures congestion. Additionally, the ordinance states that residents located near the parade route cannot freely travel from, and to their homes, also due to street closures and congestion.

Because of the significant cost to the township and the significant impacts to township businesses and residents, the township feels there should be a limit on the number of parades within any one particular area of the township, as well as limit the duration of the street closures associated with any one particular parade, as the ordinance argues.

Because there is a significant impact that parades have on township resources, business, and residents, there is a need for more notice as to when a parade is planned to occur and the size and impacts of the parade.

Requiring reasonable fees to obtain a parade permit, providing a longer time for the permit application process, limiting the number of parades per month, and limiting the duration of the parades will directly and narrowly address the foregoing substantial government interests, according to the ordinance.

Other aspects of the proposed ordinance

Permits for parades must first be obtained by the Director of Public Safety. Those exempt include funeral processions, students going to and from school classes or participating in educational activities, provided that such conduct is under immediate direction and supervision of the proper school authorities.

To get a permit, an application must be filed with the Director of Public Safety more than 90 days before the parade. The application must include: contact information for the person seeking to conduct the parade; the information of the organization behind the parade; the contact information of the chairperson of the parade; the parade hours and date; the route to be traveled from start to end; the approximate number of people, vehicles and floats, the hours of the parade; whether the parade will occupy the full width of the street; the location of any staging areas for the parade and the time that those involved will arrive at said area; the number and types of vendors that will be present during the parade; if the organizers are charging fees for advertising during the parade; the interval of space between units of the parade; if the parade is being on behalf of someone; and any additional information deemed necessary.

The application fee will be $100. If a parade is approved, a permit fee of $2,500 is required. Permits will only be accepted if: the parade will not substantially interrupt the safe and orderly movement of other traffic contiguous to its route; the conduct of the parade will not require the diversion of so great a number of police officers to properly police the line of movement and the areas contiguous thereto as to prevent normal police protection in the township; the concentration of persons and vehicles at assembly points of the parade will not unduly interfere with the movement of fire-fighting equipment to a fire; the parade is scheduled to move from its point of origin to its point of termination expeditiously and without reasonable delays along the route; the total duration of the parade and its related activities within the township, including the set up, staging, breakdown, and cleanup of equipment, will not require any street to be closed for more than four hours; holding the parade on the date proposed will not result in the closure of a particular street, particular portion of said street, for more than four total hours in any one month period; no parade will begin on a Sunday until after 1 p.m.; no live animals are permitted to participate in or be a part of any parades; and any other municipality through which the parade will move or impact has approved the parade.

Up for public hearing this month

After receiving the application, the Director will decide whether or not to issue a permit. Prior to receiving a permit, the applicant must provide proof of $1,000,000 in coverage insurance for the parade. Once a parade permit is granted, it can be revoked if it proven that the parade may cause an unreasonable hazard or danger to the health or welfare of township citizens, visitors, or employees, and if there are material differences between the application and parade itself.

Certain requirements may be waived under certain circumstances. Interference of parades is prohibited, as is driving through parades, and parking on the parade route may be prohibited. Violations of the ordinance include a $500 fine and or up to 30 days in jail.

The board will hold a public hearing and vote on the ordinances at its next meeting at 5 p.m. on June 22 at the municipal chambers at Town Hall at 4233 Kennedy Boulevard. For more information, go to northbergen.org.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.