Nashville restaurants now have an option to expand dining to sidewalks or their parking lots — an effort by the city to help keep restaurants afloat as they continue to be impacted by the pandemic.
Metro Council approved legislation Tuesday evening that temporarily allows restaurants to expand their outdoor seating while still complying with capacity limitations imposed by the city.
The legislation got unanimous support from council as they hope it will aid businesses that have had to find creative ways to adjust their operations under health restrictions.
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The ordinance extends the ability for businesses to get a « sidewalk cafe » permit — previously only an option for restaurants downtown — throughout the county, It also allows businesses to utilize some of their private parking spots, not including Accessible Parking Spaces — for additional seating.
« This presents us with an opportunity to provide a small, but possibly very significant amount of relief to some of our small businesses, hospitality workers and restaurant owners, » said Council Member Sean Parker, who sponsored the bill.
Restaurants must still get a permit from Public Works — the $100 fee is waived during the duration of the ordinance — and comply with existing provisions, including at least a 4-foot sidewalk clearance as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
There may be a need for more clearance in some cases.
Council approved amendments Tuesday that extends an initial sunset date for the legislation from Jan. 1 to Feb. 15. Changes also address concerns about state law regarding sale of beer and alcohol on public right-of-way, and allows businesses to use all their outdoor private property for seating with proper permitting from Metro Codes, for 150 days before needing to be renewed.
Supporters of the measure, including Nashville businesses, hope the changes will outlast COVID-19, and for it to be a starting point for how the city utilizes public space and right-of-way in the future with potential shifts and changes in a post-pandemic world.
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Businesses will have to submit a site plan to the city for review by Metro Public Work, where employees will then do an examination of how operations are set up.
Metro will conduct inspections if any concerns or complaints related to public rights-of-way are filed with the city.
Yihyun Jeong covers politics in Nashville for USA TODAY NETWORK – TENNESSEE. Reach her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @yihyun_jeong.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville restaurants may now get ‘sidewalk cafe’ permit to help with COVID-19 impact