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Council extends hours for sidewalk dining, expands areas where it can take place

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
More downtown sidewalks in Salisbury could be used for outside dining and drinking, thanks to code changes.
Salisbury City Council held a public hearing Tuesday before extending the hours for sidewalk dining and expanding the areas where it can take place.
Hours for sidewalk dining are now available until 11 p.m. (not 9 p.m.) Sunday through Thursday and until midnight (not 11 p.m.) Friday and Saturday.
A restaurant or wine shop also can expand its sidewalk dining area up to 12 feet into an adjacent business, if the adjacent property owner agrees to it in writing.
The code changes also spell out the amount of liability insurance a business must have before providing sidewalk dining.
During the public hearing, Michael Young said the changes will provide for generous seating capacity and hours.
But Young spoke against a proposal that would have required outside furniture to be removed every night.
Council members agreed with him.
Mayor Pro Tem Paul Woodson said the problem would become where to store the outdoor furniture.
Councilman Mark Lewis agreed. A business may want to put large, heavy planters on the sidewalk as a way to designate its dining area. He would prefer that kind of boundary compared to rope, Lewis said.
But moving those heavy planters would become an issue every night, if the city required removal, Lewis said.
Dan Mikkelson, land management and development director, said the provision for removal was recommended because the businesses are using a public right of way. Maybe a restaurant would have sidewalk dining only once a week. Should it be allowed to keep the furniture on the sidewalk the other six days?
In the end, council voted not to require overnight removal of the sidewalk furniture.
The city code requires that even with sidewalk dining a path at least 5 feet wide must be available for pedestrians.
Downtown Salisbury Inc. supported the changes. Mayor Susan Kluttz said she was surprised more restaurants didn’t take advantage of sidewalk dining when council loosened restrictions in 2002. She praised city staff and Downtown Salisbury Inc. for their work on the new provisions.
Randy Hemann, executive director of Downtown Salisbury Inc., said the changes make things more user friendly.
“We hope we’ll have a lot of it,” Mayor Pro Tem Paul Woodson said.
William Peoples, a resident of North Fulton Street, asked during the public hearing how sidewalk dining would work on the 100 block of East Fisher Street. The new sidewalks are too narrow to have sidewalk dining and still allow the 5-foot-wide path for pedestrians, he said.
Joe Morris, planning and community development manager, said recommendations could be coming on another ordinance change that would allow businesses in that block to have sidewalk dining during certain events, such as street festivals.
Salisbury’s downtown has approximately 16 restaurants.
Sewer line update
In other business, City Manager David Treme and Interim Utilities Director Jim Behmer updated council on the proposed $6.5 million sewer line, which would extend from Salisbury to China Grove in the Interstate 85-U.S. 29 corridor.
Under a 2006 agreement, the city and Rowan County government would share the costs of the line equally, and the city would manage the project. It has taken two years for Salisbury to survey and clear environmental hurdles along Town Creek, but city officials said Tuesday they should have an environmental permit in hand by late August or early September.
After that, the city would proceed with obtaining easements and putting the project out for bids.
In other items, council:
– Heard from Larry Wright and William Peoples during a public comment session.
Wright, who has regularly attended council meetings since the city tried to annex the N.C. 150 area, read from a prepared statement and again expressed his opposition to the state’s involuntary annexation law.
“People don’t like higher taxes imposed by their elected representatives,” Wright said, “but the feelings run much higher when officials not elected by us attempt to tax us and make us subject to their laws.
“… Forced annexation may be legal, but it is not right. It is un-American.”
Peoples said the city should review its ordinances in connection to vicious dogs. He expressed concern about a growing number of young men owning pit bulls and suggested that when they are walked on a street that they be required to wear muzzles.
Peoples also said a West Fisher Street area in which the Community Development Corp. has focused its efforts needs to have more street lights. He complained it doesn’t make sense that residents have to petition the city for street lights. “This is a neighborhood you’re trying to bring back,” he said.
Council members asked city staff to report back on the street lighting issue. Councilman Mark Lewis also pressed for information on street lighting for Brenner Avenue.
– Appointed the city’s risk manager, a Rowan County veterinarian and Councilman Bill Burgin to serve as a Dangerous Dog Appeal Board. The board will hear a case at noon Monday in the first-floor conference room of City Hall.
– Declared July as Parks and Recreation Month in Salisbury. The Salisbury Parks and Recreation Department’s theme for this month is “All Things Patriotic.” Some youth participants from the city’s Summer Camp program sang patriotic songs and handed out small American flags to council members Tuesday.
An aluminum can flag, ultimately to be recycled, will appear on the City Park island later this month.
The city has four recreation centers and 16 parks.

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