Council discusses ordinance changes related to seating, bars, pergolas

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 20, 2019

By Liz Moomey

SALISBURY — The Salisbury City Council on Tuesday considered making three Land Development Ordinance changes that would address outdoor seat’s relationship to parking at restaurants, the definition of a bar and the right location for pergolas. 

All three items relate to ongoing or recently proposed projects.

One amendment gave the message to Culver’s Restaurant that their business would be welcomed in Salisbury. The restaurant will break ground in July at 730 Jake Alexander Blvd. South and specialize in outdoor seating. While the council discussed two others, they were tabled for a later meeting.

The seating amendment would consider outdoor seating at restaurants and bars in calculating parking space amounts. It stated, “All square footage calculations are gross interior floor area with the exception of a restaurant/bar use, which can include both interior and exterior gross dining floor area for square footage calculation.”

The ordinance originally only considered indoor dining.

Zoning Administrator Teresa Barringer said, with the change, restaurants don’t have to have a minimum amount of parking spaces to accompany outdoor seating but will now have the ability to ask for more parking if they have outdoor seating.

“It’s not mandatory that a restaurant provide parking for outdoor dining,” Barringer said. “This gives them the ability to request it. They don’t have that ability at this point the way the code is currently written.”

Barringer referred to Culver’s to say a recent developer has outdoor seating in their market and the ordinance without the amendment would kill their project.

Barringer discussed two other text amendments that were recommended by the Salisbury Planning Board. Both were eventually tabled for more consideration about language.

One of the tabled items considered changes to the bar, taverns and nightclub definition. The amended ordinance would address businesses that have a primary use and a secondary use that is alcohol consumption. An example of a primary use would be a microbrewery. A secondary use would be a tasting room.

The definition got attention after Grievous Gallery came before the Planning Board and City Council recently to have on-site consumption. The council, board and staff did not think the gallery should be labeled as a bar, tavern or nightclub as it specialized in glass-throwing activities.

Council member Brian Miller on Tuesday suggested staff look at other municipalities’ wording, giving the example of axe throwing, which has gained popularity recently and involves drinking, too.

“Let’s go borrow their language,” Miller said. “There is something out there we can use I would imagine.”

The City Council was also asked to think about a text amendment that would allow accessory structures such as arbors, pergolas and trellises to be allowed in front and side yards.

Council members questioned the reason for the consideration.

“The one I’m looking at now is the Wallace Cancer Center … part of their healing garden included a pergola for the patients,” Barringer said. “Under this current code, they can’t have it in this area because it’s the exterior side yard and the principal structure is not 200 feet away.”

She continued, saying the city doesn’t make amendments for one project, but other properties in Salisbury, particularity in historic districts, may want a yard structure in their front or side yard.

Council member Karen Alexander argued that a pergola should be in the back or side yard — never a front yard of a home.

“If you all can take this ordinance as you’ve written it and test it against a lot of different scenarios, because I think until you do that, you’re not going to realize the unintended consequences of the language written,” Alexander said.

In other business:

• Warren Miller, of Fountainworks Facilitation and Management Consulting, and Pete Teague, of Livingstone College, gave a presentation on the Salisbury Economic Charrette in March.

At the meeting, participants named assets in Salisbury, which included Hotwire, downtown, proximity to Charlotte, minority business development, growing healthcare presence and opportunity zones.

Teague said there was excitement at the event, but there has been no follow through and asked the council for support. Miller said the council would be interested but would like to see a proposal about how to move forward.

• Parks and Recreation Event Coordinator Vivian Kootz gave an update on the 2019 Cheerwine Festival.

Koontz said $7,500 was donated to Meals on Wheels from Cheerwine sales. She said many participating businesses had their single-best day of sales.

The next festival is scheduled for May 16, 2020 — keeping with the third weekend in May. Her goal for next year’s is to never step backwards.

• Salisbury Pride received a proclamation to recognize Salisbury Pride Day on Saturday.

• D-Day Veteran Jim Deal received a proclamation for the 75th anniversary of the allied invasion of Normandy.

• Lee Street Theatre was also presented a proclamation.