SOUTH PORTLAND – When it meets on Monday, May 5, the South Portland City Council is expected to pass a new ordinance that would allow eateries to use a portion of the public sidewalk to offer outdoor seating.
Last year, the council entered into a temporary agreement with the Cia Cafe, a coffee, ice cream and arts establishment on Ocean Street in the Knightville neighborhood, to provide outdoor seating on a trial basis.
Due to a recent re-design of the commercial area in Knightville, the sidewalks there, as well as in Willard Square, are now 8 feet in width, according to City Manager Jim Gailey, which leaves enough room for both outdoor seating and the passage of pedestrians.
In a position paper provided to the City Council last week, Gailey said the purpose of the temporary license allowing Cia to offer outdoor seating was to give city staff time “to monitor the activity and register any complaints prior to making changes to the ordinance.”
Gailey added that, “a recent polling of staff members resulted in no complaints received and no issues experienced.”
Under the ordinance allowing outdoor seating, the activity would be limited to between March 15 and Nov. 1 each year and daily from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Also any eatery receiving a license allowing outdoor seating must agree to clean the sidewalk daily and provide an outdoor trash can for their patrons.
In addition, any business wishing to offer outside seating must provide proof to the city that it has a general liability insurance policy of not less than $400,000 for both personal injury and property damage. In addition, no license allowing the outdoor seating would be issued until the fire chief, the police chief, the director of public works and the code enforcement officer have all signed off.
In outdoor seating areas no smoking would be allowed and patrons would also not be allowed to purchase or bring alcohol for consumption. And, each business with an outside seating license must also ensure that at least 36 inches of the sidewalk is clear of any obstructions in order to allow for safe pedestrian and wheelchair passage.
– Kate Irish Collins