An Apartment Security Ordinance requiring security cameras at drives into and out of apartment complexes, and either gates or license plate readers at larger complexes, goes before Statesboro City Council for a second reading and possible enactment during its 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, regular meeting.
But a proposed Event Centers Ordinance, creating licensing and other requirements for event venues that do not have alcoholic beverage licenses, returns only for a public hearing on a first reading. The council tabled this ordinance on an abortive first reading in August, after continued discussion of a proposed security camera requirement.
Both of those proposed city laws share the Tuesday morning agenda with the proposed first “reading” (Ordinances usually aren’t read aloud, only summarized before a public hearing that is part of the regular meeting) of the city’s massive new Unified Development Code. The UDC, a rewrite of Statesboro’s zoning regulations and related ordinances, occupies the majority of a 600-page meeting packet received by the mayor and council.
Cameras and gates
The Apartment Security Ordinance would require camera systems at all vehicle access points for all non-exempt complexes containing more than 25 apartments, plus an additional level of access control for complexes with more than 50 units.
Non-exempt apartment complexes containing more than 50 residential units would be required to have either “controlled, gated access” or tag readers at all vehicle entrances and, if using the tag reader option, must retain tag reader data for at least 30 days.
“Those over 50 (units) would need to have either the gated access or opt to have tag readers,” City Attorney Cain Smith confirmed for council members during an Aug. 15 work session.
That will be in addition to the camera systems required at all vehicle entrances and exits to all non-exempt complexes, if the new regulations are enacted as drafted.
The proposed rule requires that the camera systems be connected to the Statesboro Police Department’s currently contracted Fusus video network “or any other data collection system then in use by Statesboro PD.” Property owners or managers will be required to archive video for a minimum of seven days and have it available for inspection by the police “in the course of investigating criminal behavior.”
During last month’s work session, District 2 Councilmember Paulette Chavers said she supported the regulations “to cut back on future crime.”
“That is the only reason why I’m for these cameras for apartment complexes, especially the ones that are going to be newly built,” she said.
The proposed wording of the city law section states that it “shall not apply to Apartment Complexes existing as of” the date it is enacted. Then it states: “This Article shall apply to any newly constructed Apartment Complexes, to Apartment Complexes being renovated or modified to the extent that a building permit is required or Apartment Complexes that have changed ownership.”
Complexes required to have the camera systems could face fines up to $1,000 a day – as with other violations of city codes – for not having operating cameras, Smith said. But Chief of Police Mike Broadhead noted that fines for such violations follow Municipal Court processes that generally give people a chance to cooperate.
During the Aug. 15 regular meeting, the council approved the first reading of the ordinance 5-0 on a motion from Chavers seconded by District 5 Councilmember Shari Barr, sending it forward to this week’s second reading.
But at that same meeting Aug. 15 – after discussion that occurred entirely during the work session – the council by a 5-0 vote tabled a first reading of the Event Centers Ordinance.
Now appearing for a new first reading, the ordinance would require a license for any event center, defined as “a non-residential location hosting private parties, live musical concerts, performing arts presentations or performances and/or any other type of entertainment that does not hold a valid city alcohol license with a maximum occupancy load exceeding 25 persons.”
This requirement would not apply to places used strictly for business meetings or those with alcohol licenses, Smith emphasized.
By obtaining a license, event center operators would consent that Statesboro Police and Fire Department personnel “may enter any event in order to assess life safety issues and compliance” and that those agencies could terminate an event for “failure to abide by life safety regulations.”
The rules would require an event center representative and event host to be present throughout any event. Alcoholic beverages would be prohibited unless a special event permit or catered event permit is obtained for the specific time and date.
The version included in the council packet would also require each event center to have “live camera coverage around the exterior perimeter” and retain footage at least seven days after an event. Connecting to the Police Department’s system would be “encouraged” but not required.
After an earlier presentation, Smith had removed wording requiring camera coverage inside event centers before the Aug. 15 work session.
At that session, Chavers said she felt that requiring any “existing event centers” to install cameras wouldn’t be fair. But Smith noted that there officially are no event centers because they have not been permitted as such by the city.
If approved on a first reading this week, the ordinance could be enacted at the next meeting.