By Dan Moffett

    After the furor over the Red Cross plan for a Designers’ Show House on Point Manalapan, town commissioners are working to draft a new ordinance that would prohibit large, multiday special events.
    “This is the result of the recent effort to have a monthlong event in our community,” Mayor David Cheifetz said of the Red Cross debacle. “To prevent this problem in the future, we thought we’d have a simple section added to the code.”
    Dozens of angry residents complained to Town Hall in July after finding out commissioners had approved a plan to hold the Show House fundraiser on Audubon Causeway next February. The backlash was enough to make the Red Cross forget the idea and move the fundraiser elsewhere.
    The proposed new ordinance is similar to those on the books in Gulf Stream and several other South Florida coastal communities. Special events, no matter how charitable or well-intended, are restricted in size and duration, and must have approval in advance from town officials.
    Town Attorney Keith Davis, who drafted the changes, said he tried to keep the language as simple as possible and keep the new “residential special event” rules informal and without requirements for permitting. The town still will allow residents to hold events that are expected to generate traffic of 20 or more vehicles, but their duration must not exceed 24 hours.
    Residents can hold multiple events on consecutive days, however, such as dinner parties on successive nights, Davis said.
    Property owners are required to notify the town at least two weeks in advance of the events, so police and officials can prepare for the traffic and parking.
    The commission gave its blessing to Davis’ draft and will consider a first reading of the proposed ordinance at its Sept. 23 meeting.
    In other business:
    • Commissioner Peter Isaac, the commission’s point man on the Audubon Causeway Bridge project, said permitting is on schedule, 90 percent of the drawings are done and the engineers think the projected costs will be “fairly spot on.”
    Isaac said a definitive assessment of the costs should be ready by September, and the $760,000 project will be ready for commissioners to solicit bids from contractors by Oct. 30. The town would hope to get the bids back by Dec. 11.
    “We’re aiming for the commission to award the bid probably in the Town Commission meeting of Jan. 27,” Isaac said, “all with an aim to start work on the south side of the bridge by the first of April.”
    Isaac said the goal is still to get the 37-foot bridge completed by mid-December 2015, with perhaps some cosmetic touch-ups left for January 2016.
    • At what point does a lawn ornament become a statue? Commissioners decided to hold off on wrestling with that question until they hear from the Architectural Commission.
    Chairwoman Daryl Cheifetz said her group wants to weigh in on an ordinance regulating the size and nature of lawn ornaments before town commissioners have their say.

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