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Village Board turns down street dance license

The Ellsworth Village Board turned down an application for a license a summer street dance in East Ellsworth at its monthly meeting Monday evening.

The vote 5-1 against approving the license as recommended by the Health, License and Welfare Committee.  Board member Dick Hines was the only dissenting vote.

The street dance was not held last year due to construction work with the Ellsworth Co-op Creamery expansion.

The board turned down the license in order to be compliance with a village ordinance passed last April which states that a Street Use Permit shall be denied if the proposed treet use is primarily for private or commercial gain. The proposed license did not have a non-profit group which would share in the proceeds. Board members objection's to the street dance in the past, besides some various complaints over noise or picnic tables not returned for example, has been having the village police staff a largely commerical event. 

Jason Marks of Broz Bar and Grill in East Ellsworth said while the past he's included non-profit groups in the past to share in the proceeds, he feels the board's action runs counter to overall policy of aiding local businesses.

"It's easier for one person to staff and run the event than to find a group to do so," Marks said. "And certainly an event like this requires some profit to continue make it worth doing but not something I've become rich off of. And I find it strange the village has been willing to help out other businesses here town to either locate or expand and yet won't help businesses in East Ellsworth put on an event that's gone on for over 35 years."

Village President Gerald DeWolfe said the reason the ordinance was passed last spring was do to liability concerns. Having the insurance of a non-profit group ensures greating protection for the village in case anything went wrong.

"We don't want to put ourselves in a situation that affects liability."

Marks retorted that if liability were such a concern the village would not give a license to the Cheese Curd Festival.

Hines spoke in favor of rexamining the ordinance, saying it was drawn up too strict and felt unfairly targets the street dance.

While the board turned down the license, they gave Marks the opportunity to reapply in accordance with the ordinance later this month.