Jefferson County Commissioners held the first reading of an ordinance Friday that would require permits for parades, public solicitations and public assemblies involving more than 10 people.

Citing concerns from residents over demonstrations at the courthouse and other events, Commission President Dave Bramer said commissioners felt it was best to work with legal counsel and set forth requirements to tighten safety. But he said many of the fine points remain to be worked out, like where and how exactly the law would apply.

The ordinance reads that permits are required for submission and review by the county for “any march, demonstration, procession, street solicitation or motorcade consisting of persons, animals or vehicles or a combination of them upon the streets, sidewalks, parks or other public grounds within the county with an intent of attracting public attention that interferes with or has the tendency to interfere with the normal flow or regulation of pedestrian or vehicle traffic upon the streets, sidewalks, parks or other public grounds.”

Commissioner permits would be required for any parade, public assembly or public solicitation unless for a funeral procession, students going to and from classes or educational activities under the direction of school personnel. A governmental agency acting under the scope of its functions or lawful picketing for a labor dispute that does not otherwise violate state or federal law would also be exempt.

Based on the ordinance read Friday, permits would be required on the county courthouse campus downtown, in unincorporated areas, and in Madison or Hanover if those areas do not currently have similar ordinances in place. Bramer said Monday he is confident it would apply in Hanover, but commissioners were still working to see if it would apply throughout the city of Madison as well.

As for the time span, applications for parades would need to be filed a minimum of 30 days in advance, but no longer than 365 days before an event. Applications for public assemblies, however, would need to be filed 10 days in advance. However, the ordinance specified that exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis.

Organization, and person serving as head of the organization hosting the event. Applications must also include the starting and ending point of the parade route, approximate number of persons, hours, location, a statement on whether the parade will take up the entire street, activities planned during the event, amplification equipment and any other important information for consideration.

Commissioners would also present the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office with a copy of the application to help determine the appropriate police presence for traffic control and public safety as well as copies to the local fire chief, EMS director or anyone else deemed necessary to determine the response.

Scheduling is another essential part of the ordinance, as no two events would be allowed to organize on the same day and time to allow police to focus their attention and staffing on a singular event, Bramer said.

If an application is denied, applicants can appeal within five days of receipt by filing a written notice with commissioners and providing a copy to the county clerk. Commissioners would then act on the appeal at the next regular scheduled meeting.

Penalties for violating any provision of the ordinance carry a civil fine of no less than $25 but no more than $2,500.

Warren Auxier, president of the Jefferson County Plan Commission, warned commissioners that the ordinance could open “one huge can of worms” regarding First Amendment rights and said, if passed, permits would be needed for regular occurrences like the motorcycle groups who meet for veterans and parents gathering to cheer on buses of student athletes leaving for state competitions.

With that said, later versions of the ordinance could need language specifying exceptions and addressing the possibility of gatherings under 10 people that sometimes attract far more people —like the Klu Klux Klan picnics held in downtown Madison over the past few years that start out as a handful of people but draw far more — than the application specifies, Auxier said.

“I’d really feel comfortable if you had someone who was very familiar with the constitutionality of limiting public assembly and ability to do those type of things. Because those lawsuits — I follow them from time to time on a federal basis— they get extremely expensive quick,” Auxier said.

In other business Friday, the commissioners:

• Heard a presentation by representatives of the Heritage Trail Conservancy requesting $25,000 to help meet their fundraising goal to acquire additional property and add a large water feature, fishing dock and a small gazebo, among other additions, to the trail.

• Appointed Bramer to the Jefferson County Board of Tourism replacing Robert Little, who resigned from the Board earlier this month.

• Conducted the third reading and passage of the Fair Housing Ordinance, which includes anti-discriminatory provisions for single parents, individuals of different sexual orientations and other groups.