Council to introduce sidewalk cafe ordinance

The City Council is scheduled to introduce an ordinance at its regular meeting Wednesday night, establishing regulations and licensing for outdoor sidewalk cafes. The ordinance (O-19-12) would come up for a public hearing and final approval at the July 9 pre-conference/regular meeting, and would take effect 20 days after/if it’s signed by the mayor.

The annual application for a sidewalk cafe would be accompanied by a $500 fee. The fee would cover the cost of the location being inspected and plans reviewed by the police chief, fire chief, city engineer, health officer and construction official.

Director of the Department of Building, Planning and Economic Development Richard Watkins told the governing body tonight that there is no existing ordinance and the city needs a method to regulate and license the practice since it would be a private business operating in the public right of way, requiring indemnification to protect the city as well as neighbors. The ordinance would require a minimum of six feet of paved sidewalk and not operate past 10:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and certain holidays).

Watkins said that Hotel Indigo has expressed interest in a sidewalk cafe and while no other restaurants have yet to do the same, he’s hopeful others will follow. Until now, eateries have had sidewalk seating under special arrangements with the city, he said. BYOB restaurants would be included in the ordinance.

Watkins estimated the process of filing an application until approval for a restaurant might take two to three weeks.

2 thoughts on “Council to introduce sidewalk cafe ordinance”

  1. A flat 500$ fee? so that little place on E. Cherry St near main would have to pay as much as the cafe at Indigo? Doesn't seem quite fair…Shouldn't there be a scale determined by the amount of space each location can have in front of their restaurant? The inspections surely do not take as long, the ''plans'' would take far less time to go over. I think there should be a sliding scale much like the health license —depending on seating capability.

  2. Outdoor cafes are a great idea now that summer is upon us. But I do agree that they need adequate sidewalk space. I wouldn't want to be dining and having people walking/brushing up against me.I agree with Joel that I thing a flat application fee isn't a great idea. I think the fee should be based on the number of outdoor tables. That would be more fair to the smaller restaurants.

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