CITY OF HAGERSTOWN
Guidelines for Outdoor Dining for Restaurants and Pubs
On May 27, the Governor issued an Executive Order that allows restaurants and pubs to open back up for “dining on premises” but only in outdoor seating areas. This authority is effective as of May 29 at 5:00 p.m.
The Governor’s order provides certain health-related criteria that must be met by the business:
- All staff must wear Face coverings;
- Patrons must be seated at least six feet away from each other, except for households seated together;
- Maximum number of people allowed to be seated together is six, except for members of the same household;
- Restaurant cannot serve food in a buffet style; and
- Restaurant must disinfect the tables between each seating.
The City of Hagerstown immediately began work to enable restaurants to take advantage of this authority as soon as possible.
Outdoor Dining on Private Property
On Friday, May 29th, the Mayor and City Council passed an emergency ordinance to allow the Zoning Administrator to approve temporary dining areas on private properties for existing restaurants and pubs, outside the normal Temporary Use permit process. This authority for the temporary outdoor dining areas is for the length of time the Governor’s executive order is in place or any subsequent orders issued by the Governor that affect this activity.
Many restaurants already have outdoor dining areas. If not, any restaurant or pub that would like to provide a temporary outdoor dining area must apply for a Temporary Use zoning permit through the Planning & Code Administration Department. Applications are available today on-line. Fees are waived. The application must include illustrations of the intended layout of the eating areas, the location of tables and chairs and tents if proposed, and the fencing desired to be use if needed. If a tent is desired, a tent permit is required to ensure the tent material meets fire safety standards and the tent is installed safely. Businesses must provide access to restrooms for their patrons. Once the temporary use permit expires, the temporary outdoor dining area must be removed and the site returned to its previous or better condition. If the business wants to create a permanent outdoor seating area, they would need to go through the regular site plan process to ensure the activity meets all codes and does not interfere with required parking.
Outdoor Dining on Public Property
The City already has a Sidewalk Café License process for dining on public sidewalks. A number of downtown restaurants already have sidewalk dining. If not, any restaurant or pub that would like to place tables and chairs on the public sidewalk must apply for a Sidewalk Café License through the City Engineering Department’s office. The application must include illustrations of the intended layout of the eating areas, the tables and chairs desired to be used, and the fencing desired to be use if needed. The application must also provide a copy of the business’ liability insurance to show the outdoor area would be covered by the insurance. Businesses must provide access to restrooms for their patrons.
Issues to Consider in Designing the Layout of Outdoor Dining Areas
The business needs to ensure there is at least five feet of room for pedestrians to access the front door of the business or doors of neighboring businesses and that there is at least five feet kept clear on the sidewalk for pedestrians to walk safely by the property. Location of any overhead or underground utilities must be considered particularly for tents. If located in a parking lot, safe passage of vehicles and access for handicap parking must be considered.
Serving Alcohol in Outdoor Seating Areas
If the business plans to serve alcohol in the outdoor seating area, the Liquor Board must grant approval of a license for that activity. Fencing around the outdoor seating area is required if alcohol is to be served.