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Dubuque to Loosen Special Event Permit Ordinance

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DUBUQUE, Iowa - People planning a big event or party in Dubuque may want to take a look at the city's changing special event permit policy. Current city law requires a special permit for gatherings of more than 25 people, even if it's at someone's house. But city leaders say they never intended for the law to be that restrictive.That's why the city want to make some changes.

But even with changes to loosen it up, some people are still crying foul.

Over the past decade little tweaks to Dubuque's Special Event Permit Ordinance created somewhat of a monster.

Assistant City Manager Cindy Steinhauser said, "Right now, the way that it's written regardless of the size of your group. If your gathering, you require special events permits. "

City leaders are working to correct that ordinance.They plan to require a permit at private property parties only for extreme situations.

Steinhauser said, "If you decide to throw Dubuque's biggest 4th of July, Hollywood bash, everybody is invited. $10 cover to get in. That would require a special event permit. "

Still, the changes to correct the ordinance errors aren't good enough for some people living in Dubuque.

Attorney Art Gilloon said, "This is the United States of America where you don't have to call the government to get approval to associate and assemble and speak. We should let them do that. "

Gilloon, a private attorney, believes the city should only require a permit for big festivals and parades. Not for smaller, impromptu events like protests or vigils.

"If they are lawful and peaceful and they aren't violating anything else. They shouldn't haven't to ask anybody if they can do that," Gilloon.

The city says they have more work to do clean up this ordinance and will do so within the next 30 days.

With three colleges in Dubuque, some people wondered if the change was an effort to crack down on house parties. But city leaders say that isn't really a problem in Dubuque.