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New rule: July 4 blankets, tarps can come out at dawn in PTC

In a last-minute change, the Peachtree City Council came up with another solution to avoid a proliferation of tarps and blankets in advance of July 4 that made the city look like “a shantytown,” in the words of several council members.

Council agreed by consensus to allow tarps and blankets to be placed the morning of July 4 beginning at dawn. If that sounds a bit ambiguous, it is on purpose to avoid a stampede of parade and fireworks spectators from rushing to stake out their spot at the exact same time.

The problem is that last year, the first tarps and blankets were put out over the weekend, some five days ahead of the holiday event. Naturally, that spawned a run on the “spot saving” and residents subsequently were subjected to the resulting less-than-picturesque views for the next five days.

City staff had recommended an ordinance that would require require blankets and tarps to be unattended for no longer than 60 minutes. Combined with a curfew at city parks and rights of way, that would have taken care of the matter as well, according to city staff.

It did leave heartburn with some council members, however, as there were concerns with interfering with the “tradition” of staking out one’s spot for fireworks and parade viewing days in advance.

Councilman Eric Imker originally suggested allowing the spots to be saved starting at midnight the day before, in an effort to give city residents the jump on outsiders who come to watch the parade and fireworks.

One concern with that concept was the potential for disagreements and a need for police presence, which is already stretched thin with all the other necessary duties for the July 4 festivities.

The decision from council was not final because city staff had to rewrite the ordinance to make the necessary changes. The new ordinance is expected to be approved sometime next month.

Presumably the new ordinance will allow staff to confiscate tarps, blankets and other materials left in city rights of way and in city parks in advance of dusk on July 4. Such an element was included in staff’s original proposal. Council did not specifically say whether they wanted to include that power in an amended ordinance.

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