Monmouth will use its broad sidewalks around the town square to make the area more inviting while offering an opportunity for business expansion.
Community Director Paul Schuytema says the cafe seating ordinance will allow restaurants to provide outdoor seating on the public right-of-way on those broad sidewalks.
He says, “In light of the development that we're trying to do downtown...an ordinance like this becomes a really nice recruitment tool to bring restaurants that we don't yet have in the downtown into some of the areas that are going to be developed.”
One of the developments is an effort by Iowa-based Frantz-Hobart to turn six buildings into apartments and retail space. Schuytema says the project should be completed early next year.
The city and some restaurant owners independently came up with the idea of cafe seating downtown. Two restaurant owners have indicated interest in adding cafe seating to their establishments.
He says, “We can imagine some place on the square that can have wonderful red-checked tablecloth seating outside.”
The locations must meet requirements for the disabled. One provision is that restaurants must allow five feet of clearance to allow a wheelchair or powered chair passage.
Schuytema also says one of the challenges of drafting the ordinance was to provide for restaurants that serve liquor. He says they must separate that area from the public space on the sidewalk.
The city did not want the areas to just become outdoor seating for bars. He says the city used its existing definition of a restaurant as a business that receives over one-half its revenue from food sales.
Schuytema says smoking will not be allowed in the cafe seating areas. He says the ordinance will regard those areas as extensions of a restaurant's dining room.
The city will require a $25 annual license fee. It will also inspect the areas to make sure they comply with city ordinances.