Spencer City Council members on Monday filed for the second time an ordinance that would allow restaurants to set up sidewalk cafés on public sidewalks outside their establishments.
If the ordinance is filed a third and final time, establishments where at least 50% of revenue comes from food sales can apply for permits to operate cafés from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. from April to October.
The idea to allow sidewalk cafés has been met with positive feedback.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s great, that it’s long overdue, things like that,” Ward 1 Council Member Tom Nelson said during the meeting.
Weasy’s Lounge and Grille is planning to operate a space on the sidewalk out its Grand Avenue establishment.
City Manager Amanda Mack said the city hasn’t received calls about other restaurants interested.
“I haven’t heard directly,” she said. “I’ve heard some scuttle that there’s interest from some of the others, but I haven’t taken any calls.”
Alcohol will be allowed at the cafés if purchased at the operating restaurant.
Monday’s filing was approved unanimously. Ward 4 Council Member Leann Jacobsen was not in attendance.
Small cell installation policies approved
Council members approved a resolution adopting policies regarding placement of small cell installations in the public right of way.
The resolution is in response to an FCC report and order on 5G wireless systems and the small cell installations needed to transmit those signals. The FCC gave cities a deadline of April 15 to set certain policies related to the installations.
“Essentially, this policy is to at least exert some control, to protect the historic districts – of which we have two on Grand (Avenue) and to protect residential to some extent,” City Attorney Don Hemphill said. “To maybe make (wireless providers) modify their antennas to look a little more like our streetlights or something and preserve it as best we can, while at the same time encouraging development. Because I assume we want both those things.”
Hemphill explained to the council that the resolution ensures the city can in the future have some say in small cell installations.
“(The FCC) said cities have 180 days to enact policies regarding small cell citing, otherwise there is possible jeopardy that we wouldn’t be able to enforce any kind of policies.” he said.
“I attended the SMU trustee meeting Monday and they’ve also gone through the exercise,” Ward 2 Council Member Bill Orrison said.
Orrison said SMU is concerned the installations can’t be attached to existing light poles, which may be too short.
In addition, the 5G signals only have a range of 300-500 feet.
“Which means we could have every 300 to 500 feet another pole in the ground,” Orrison said.
The resolution is more of a preliminary step, as 5G wireless capabilities have not yet been made available in the area.
“This is all based on what may happen and it may not happen any time soon here in Spencer,” Hemphill said.
The council approved the resolution by a vote of 6-0.
Spencer applying for re-designation as Iowa Great Place
Spencer is seeking redesignation as an Iowa Great Place, which would make grant funding available for various projects.
The city was designated as an Iowa Great Place in 2008. That status is set to expire and applications for redesignation are due May 1, 2019.
Spencer Community Theater is heading the redesignation process.
Redesignation was identified as a suggestion in McClure’s Spencer Arts District plans.
The resolution was approved unanimously, 6-0.
Learn more about Iowa Great Places.