Tybee City Council to vote on resolution to expand powers during pop-up events

Published: Jul. 13, 2023 at 5:50 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - After months of controversy surrounding Orange Crush and pop-up events on Tybee Island, the City Council has the chance to pass a resolution Thursday night, asking state legislatures to help them expand powers in situations where public resources are overwhelmed.

One of the most important things about the resolution is that it passes unanimously or nearly unanimously. The last time the council had the option to vote on it, too many council members were absent to hold the vote.

The language of the resolution says that Tybee wants to be able to “declare a local emergency in connection with certain events that would overwhelm city resources.”

This is in response to the Orange Crush pop-up event from April, which saw over 40,000 people flock to Tybee, which caused traffic gridlock and officials say, overwhelmed public resources like the police and fire departments.

Mayor Shirley Sessions says that other cities on the East Coast have been dealing with similar issues concerning pop-up events, and this is a first step in getting a solution at a legislative level.

“It’s just giving local authority more power to actually maintain a sense of safety on our island, and that’s what our goal is, and that’s what our representatives and our senators have assured us that they will be seeking if we can get this resolution to them,” said Tybee Mayor Shirley Sessions,

If the resolution does pass, that puts things in the hands of state lawmakers.

Representative Jesse Petrea pointed towards a law that was passed in Florida last year as a model for what Georgia lawmakers might try to implement, should Tybee pass the resolution Thursday night.

The law, which passed overwhelmingly in the Florida Legislature, actually gives specific powers to the county Sheriff.

Under the law, sheriffs have the power to declare a “special event zone” in reaction to an unpermitted event.

Fines for noncriminal traffic zones are doubled, police can impound a car for up to 72 hours and, perhaps the most significant portion of the law, is police can get the organizer or promoter of the event to pay for any extra costs associated with enforcing the special event zone.

Petrea says that the Florida law gives a good idea of what can be done, but in order for lawmakers to start drafting legislation, the Tybee Council needs to pass their resolution unanimously, or almost unanimously, which he says he’s heard from constituents, they want to happen.

“They’re just really fed up with it, and I’ve heard that loud and clear. The local government there on Tybee is responsible for protecting public safety there. They’re reaching out to us, if they do reach out to us with a resolution, that gives us strong public support for finding a solution,” Petrea said.

That City Council meeting is Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. at the public safety building. WTOC will keep you updated about the status of the resolution.