Let Frankenstein, Dracula and the Mummy beware. Orange town officials may add new zoning regulations for Halloween fun house attractions, which Zoning Administrator Paul Dinice said have often been public safety hazards.
Dinice presented the proposed new regulation section to the Town Plan & Zoning Commission at its Dec. 4 meeting this week, although Chairman Walter E. Clark IV said it won’t be discussed until the commission’s next meeting on Jan. 3 in order to allow all commission members to participate.
Two commission members were unable to attend this week’s meeting.
Clark noted that since the fun house attractions in question only appear in the fall coinciding with Halloween, it is not seen as a pressing matter that had to be passed quickly.
Dinice told Orange Patch that he drafted the regulation so it would still allow schools and civic groups to stage Halloween fun houses as fundraisers, while discouraging them as business enterprises that temporarily use vacant commercial buildings.
The problem with them, Dinice said, is that the proprietors often build them without seeking approval from zoning officials or the fire marshal, who check to make sure that there is sufficient parking and that building and fire codes are followed.
Dinice said some of these fun house attractions have been found under construction using flammable materials and once in operation they have caused traffic problems requiring police officers to handle traffic control.
"There’s been traffic issues and loitering issues," he said. "There have been instances where they dramatically taxed police and fire resources."
The proposed regulation would restrict these fun house attractions to residential zoning districts and limit operation to only two calendar days per year at each location.
It would define “fun houses, haunted houses and other similar attractions” as an “indoor or outdoor structure, facility, attraction and/or use for the gathering of people for the purpose of entertainment or amusement.”
It further defines them as a maze, labyrinth, rooms or passageways designed so people could walk past “scenes, devices or theatrical productions” that “frighten, bewilder or amuse.”
The regulation also requires approval by the zoning enforcement officer, the fire marshal and any other town department the zoning enforcement officer deems appropriate.