North Olmsted City Council considers ordinance to allow additional restaurant patio seating –

Restaurant News

NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — City Council on Tuesday (May 19) will be considering legislation that, if passed, will allow the city to issue North Olmsted restaurant owners and operators a temporary zoning approval for additional outdoor patio dining.

Proposed by Ward 4 Councilwoman Mary Ellen Hemann, the legislation is tied to Gov. Mike DeWine loosening restaurant restrictions by allowing patio-only service to begin last week, with limited dining room seating to follow beginning Friday (May 22).

“It’s kind of interesting because, oddly, when I reached out to our law director to create the legislation, it turned out Planning Director Kim Lieber had already started to have some thoughts and discussions,” Hemann said. “The timing worked out well, and it was able to move quickly.”

The impetus for the ordinance is related to social distancing guidelines, which severely limit indoor and outdoor capacity at restaurants.

“In an effort to assist our local dining establishments (to) operate within state and county health regulations, we’ve developed a policy to allow for temporary outdoor dining patios to be approved subject to a simple administrative review,” Lieber said.

“We know these times are challenging for our restaurants, and we want to allow for the flexibility they need to be successful until normal operations can resume.”

Hemann expects the legislation to be passed on an emergency basis, which means it would take effect immediately.

If approved, each restaurant must provide a drawing of the proposed area and seating, with temporary patios operating during normal business hours. If located within 250 feet of residential property, the patio must be closed between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.

The temporary improvements may not block access or be placed on public sidewalks. Suitable barricades or protections shall be provided to protect pedestrians and diners.

“The outdoor dining will be obviously regulated within the requirements of Gov. DeWine’s orders in opening a restaurant,” Hemann said. “Alcohol is based on their current liquor permit, so it’s pretty much just saying we’re going to give you temporary outdoor space to operate the same way you’re doing indoors.”

Hemann said she’s focused on helping retail and restaurant businesses survive the spring closures related to COVID-19.

“My ward — as well as Ward 2 — has the bulk of the retail and dining facilities, which took a big hit with the closing of some of the stores,” said Hemann, who for 11 years worked at Jones Day dealing with Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings involving Fortune 500 businesses. “When you have that kind of background, you can see a domino effect and what’s coming.

“I hope this gives them the ability to turn a profit and to really be more productive. If they’re going to be open, then they should be able to make as much money as they possibly can.”

Read more news from the Sun Post Herald.

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