City working to allow outdoor service of alcohol; ordinance clears first filing

City working to allow outdoor service of alcohol; ordinance clears first filing

Spencer city officials want to make it easier for more restaurants to serve alcohol outside.

The Spencer City Council on Monday approved the first filing of an ordinance that amends parts of city code that address the matter.

“What we attempted to do with this first draft is bring the outdoor service ordinance in line with the sidewalk cafe ordinance that was just approved a few weeks ago,” City Manager Amanda Mack said.

The intent, Mack explained, is to make serving alcoholic beverages outside allowable for businesses “regardless as to whether they’re using a sidewalk or not.”

Changes in the first filing include changing the retainer height to 32 inches, removing the requirement concerning the retainer material and removing the double fencing requirement for temporary outdoor service.

But varying setback requirements, or distance from property lines, for service areas also need to be addressed.

The first filing does not address setbacks, but the ordinance will be amended for its second filing.

“Most places have a setback requirement for not a temporary, but for a seasonal outdoor service area,” Planning Director Kirby Schmidt said. “The only ones we basically eliminate is golf courses.”

The setback distance depends on the zone.

“There’s not really a setback in the central business district, but like on the highway commercial, that’s a 50-foot front yard, 12-foot side yard, 15-foot rear yard, so it really eliminates a lot of the open areas because those existing businesses are closer than that now,” Schmidt explained.

One example brought up was the patio area Sammy’s Italian Pasta and Pizza on South Grand Avenue. The patio is not set back far enough to serve alcoholic beverages, according to code.

The ordinance must be filed two more times before it can go into effect.

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