Legislation designed to better control crowds along the Saluda River near Riverbanks Zoo passed a House committee on Thursday.
Riverbanks Zoo executive director Satch Krantz requested the legislation after Columbia officials raised jurisdictional concerns about city police making arrests on zoo property. The zoo, as a special purpose district, is directed by a commission appointed by county legislators and has its own rules and regulations.
The zoo owns or leases much of the land down to the river’s edge for the last half-mile or so before the Saluda merges with the Broad River. Large crowds of revelers often gather on the rocks along the rivers edge on warm afternoons and evenings.
The only easy place to park nearby is the zoo parking lot. Inebriated revelers have driven dangerously through the zoo lot and harassed visitors to after-hours zoo events in recent years, Krantz said.
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The bill, S.836, allows the zoo to adopt regulations that mirror those for Columbia’s city parks and hire off-duty city officers to enforce the rules. The regulations most likely to impact the rock revelers are bans on alcohol and littering. Violations are a misdemeanor, punishable with a $100 fine or 30 days in jail.
The bill has passed the Senate. If it passes two votes in the full House, it moves on to the governor’s desk.