On the agenda…
Removing certain permitting requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic to temporarily authorize the use of paid public parking spaces as sidewalk cafes.
A special meeting of the Fayetteville City Council began at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, 2020. It was lived streamed on the city’s YouTube channel, and held virtually on the Zoom app due to social distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Listed below are the items up for approval and links to PDF documents with detailed information on each item of business.
Present: Sonia Gutierrez, Sarah Marsh, Mark Kinion, Matthew Petty, Mayor Lioneld Jordan, Sloan Scroggin, Sarah Bunch, Teresa Turk, Kyle Smith
1. Amend §178.02 Sidewalk Cafes (Details)
An ordinance to amend § 178.02 Sidewalk Cafes to remove certain permitting requirements during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, to temporarily authorize the use of paid public parking spaces as sidewalk cafes by adjacent businesses upon payment of the appropriate fees, to clarify the authorized areas of operation of businesses in an entertainment district, and to declare an emergency.
– Pass 8-0
While the use of sidewalk space and parking spaces are currently allowed through the sidewalk cafe permit process and tactical urbanism process, staff said this amendment would expedite the process in hopes of providing safer options for social distancing during the pandemic.
Specifically, the amendment waives the fees, application process, notification requirements, application fees, and posting requirements of a surety bond, but retains the provisions which ensures their safe use and that ADA access is maintained.
Staff said this adjustment would enable various businesses to explore sidewalk seating on their own and to be creative and try new things quickly without remitting fees or permit review. Sidewalk cafes could be utilized by restaurants, bars, performance venues and other businesses looking to expand outdoor seating.
The ordinance also encourages expanded use of parklets within city-owned right-of-way with guidelines to enable development and use without an initial development services review. This would replace the regulatory provisions by providing technical assistance to businesses. Parklets could be developed by any business looking to expand their services to a safe outdoor environment.
A second section amends the sidewalk cafe provisions of the Entertainment District ordinance in anticipation of the Outdoor Refreshment Area’s being utilized in other places throughout the city. Staff said currently, they have been able to permit the outdoor services areas and sidewalk cafe permits without any issue due to the abundance of right-of-way and sidewalks in downtown. Other areas throughout the city that will likely be utilized for expanded outdoor service will not be adjacent to public streets or sidewalks. However, their parking lots, lawns, and patios may not be within their Alcoholic Beverage Control Division permit area. Once other ORAs have been established, customers would still be able to take alcoholic refreshments outside, even without the business going through the ABC Outdoor Service Area process. This alteration would also be applicable to bars as well, whereas the ABC Outdoor Service Area process is limited to restaurants.
Mayor Jordan said staff has been working on this for a few weeks. The goal of this ordinance, he said, is to try and help local businesses survive a difficult time during the pandemic.
Mary McGetrick with city staff gave a presentation on the design guidelines that go along with the ordinance. She said that similar programs in other cities have been very successful.
Included in the the design guidelines, the parklets can take no more than three parking spaces, must be at least one spot from a corner, must be on a street with a posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less, among others.
Businesses can add some floating decking, lighting, and other temporary improvements to the parklet spaces.
Council Member Matthew Petty said he’d like to see the ordinance implemented permanently. Other council members agreed.
Mayor Jordan said his priority is moving quickly to help during the pandemic, and if things go well, the ordinance could certainly be made permanent in the future.
During the public comment section of the discussion, Molly Rawn, CEO of the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission, said she is in full support of the ordinance.
The council advanced the ordinance to the third and final reading, and passed it unanimously.
The special meeting was adjourned at 5:01 p.m.