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Outdoor dining restrictions removed by city

By Kevin Elliott

Birmingham City Commissioners on Monday, February 14, approved removing temporary restrictions on outdoor dining patios to allow for fixtures and furnishings to remain outside overnight.

Commissioners and planning board members met last year to discuss an ordinance amendment to allow for year-round outdoor patio dining, which has traditionally ended on November 15 each year for patios that extend into the public’s right-of-way. In December, the planning board approved language to remove restrictions and allow outdoor fixtures to remain outside overnight, although at a February 9 meeting they discussed adding those restrictions again.

City commissioners approved the proposed ordinance amendments. However, additional amendments are expected later this year as the planning board completes its comprehensive analysis of outdoor dining ordinances. Commissioners approved the amendments by a vote of 6-0, with commissioner Clinton Baller absent.

Under the approved changes, outdoor dining may be permitted on the sidewalk throughout the year with a valid outdoor dining license issued by the city. All tables and chairs must meet city standards. Table umbrellas will also be considered under site plan reviews and can’t impede sight lines.

In regard to outdoor dining in the public’s right-of-way, the use will be subject to a license from the city. Further, all uses must maintain an unobstructed sidewalk width of no less than five feet; written permission is granted from neighboring properties if dining extends into its right-of-way; that elevated platforms in the street require approval by the city’s engineering department to consider parking and traffic conditions; and no permanent fixtures be installed or erected in the public right-of-way.

Birmingham Planning Director Nick Dupuis said the language presented was straightforward, and that additional issues will be addressed in the future.

“It’s pretty simple, in my opinion,” Dupuis told city commissioners. “We struck three sections (of the existing ordinance) and opened it up for restaurants to permit what is essentially year-round outdoor dining. I will mention that this is understanding that we were also directed to do a full, comprehensive review of the current outdoor dining standards, which is still underway. I think we are getting very close. Expect something to come before you in April or May.”


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