LAKEWOOD, Ohio — At a special meeting Thursday night (May 21), City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that allows the Planning Commission to grant restaurants temporary conditional use permits to expand outdoor/seasonal dining into private parking lots and sidewalks during the COVID-19 emergency.
“We’re impaneling the Planning Commission to be able to grant these permits,” City Council President Daniel J. O’Malley said. “For example, if a restaurant wanted to use their parking lot as a patio, the Planning Commission would have an easier time granting approval.
“We want to make sure we’re being as responsive as possible to our businesses. There are obviously a lot of bars and restaurants in Lakewood whose livelihoods have been dramatically impacted by COVID-19.”
The impetus behind the ordinance is the loosening of restaurant restrictions allowing for limited dining room and patio seating. And while dining areas are opening back up, social distancing guidelines are severely reducing capacity.
“We recognize how important our small businesses are to our community,” said Ward 2 Councilman Jason Shachner, who earlier this week introduced the ordinance. “We want to do everything we can to make sure that people know that Lakewood is a place where it’s going to be safe to enjoy our restaurants and other amenities.”
The ordinance was amended prior to passage. Changes included waiving the application fee, pushing a temporary permit expiration date back to Oct. 31, permitting designs to be reviewed administratively instead of going to the Architectural Board of Review and allowing the Planning Commission to seek opinions from the appropriate safety forces, city engineers or the building department.
Also, while capacity in temporary outdoor patio areas was set at 30 customers, the Planning Commission has the ability to increase it in certain cases.
As far as granting “parklets,” which involve restaurants using metered parking spaces along streets for additional outdoor seating, Mayor Meghan George wasn’t comfortable with its inclusion.
“Adding the parklet component raised some eyebrows,” she said. “It’s a unique, creative idea that we need to vet a little bit more. Those will be reviewed further, with additional input from our business and residential community.”
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Source: Thanks https://www.cleveland.com/community/2020/05/lakewood-city-council-passes-additional-restaurant-patio-seating-ordinance.html