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Change in city ordinances will foster more outdoor dining downtown

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
You might see more sidewalk dining in downtown Salisbury if changes to city ordinances go through.
Salisbury City Council is looking at stretching the sidewalk hours for wine shops and restaurants and expanding the sidewalk areas they can use.
Council voted Tuesday to set a public hearing for July 15 to receive comment on the proposed changes.
Other changes being considered include the amount of liability insurance a business must carry to offer sidewalk dining and a requirement that all chairs, tables and other furnishings be removed nightly from the sidewalk.
Salisbury’s downtown has 16 restaurants at present, and about five offer some form of sidewalk dining.
The proposal would extend sidewalk hours to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. It is now 9 p.m. on those days.
On Fridays and Saturdays, sidewalk dining could continue to midnight, instead of 11 p.m.
In addition, the proposed changes would allow the sidewalk dining area to extend up to 12 feet (not 8 feet) into the frontage of adjacent property owners, provided the business has written permission from those owners.
The seating capacity of a sidewalk operation cannot be more than 50 percent of the interior seating capacity of the business.
At least 5 feet of sidewalk space must be left for pedestrians to pass.
Permits ($10 a year) are required for “sidewalk cafes” or sidewalk dining, and owners have to submit proof of insurance; hours of operation; a copy of all permits, including health and ABC permits; and a drawing that shows the section of sidewalk to be used.
According to current ordinances, alcoholic beverages can be served in approved sidewalk cafes provided the businesses meet these requirements:
– The sidewalk cafe is part of the restaurant, eating establishment or wine shop that has the necessary ABC permits.
– The portion of the sidewalk cafe where alcohol is served must be enclosed by visible barricades with no more than two points of entry or exit.
– Signs must be posted that it’s illegal to remove alcoholic beverages from the premises.
– No outdoor bars or alcoholic beverage preparations are allowed within the sidewalk cafe, except that unfortified wine can be decanted at a table as part of a meal.
Joe Morris, planning and community development manager for the city, said staff examined the ordinances on sidewalk dining after receiving a request from a property owner.
The proposed changes are endorsed by Downtown Salisbury Inc., Morris said.

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