Milwaukee pilot program allowing outdoor dining on city streets, sidewalks gets committee backing

Active Streets for Businesses proposal next heads to Common Council

Outdoor dining in Cincinnati, Ohio. (City documents)
Outdoor dining in Cincinnati, Ohio. (City documents)

Last updated on June 5th, 2020 at 12:20 pm

A proposal that would provide expanded outdoor seating options for restaurants and bars in selected areas of Milwaukee received the recommendation of the Common Council’s Public Works Committee on Wednesday.

Known as Active Streets for Businesses, the program would suspend certain code and permit requirements and allow restaurants to use public streets and sidewalks for seating. Application approvals would be expedited by the city.

According to a news release, the pilot program would be for select locations across the city in coordination with community partners and local businesses. All outdoor dining areas would need to comply with state and local health requirements intended to slow or prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, who sponsored the proposal, said she’s heard from businesses that are making preparations to safely reopen once the city’s stay-at-home orders are lifted. The orders were put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

“We have heard from many local bars and restaurants wanting to reopen and do so as safely as possible, and that inspired me to act on this issue and build off of the success of the Active Streets program,” Dimitrijevic said in a statement. “I want to thank my colleagues on the committee for their support. Having more outdoor opportunities will be safer for patrons this summer and help re-stimulate the economy. Creating these public gathering spaces also serves as another way for a neighborhood to come together and reduce our reliance on cars and parking to create a healthier city.”

Applications would be submitted online. Specific instructions on how to apply will be provided at a later date, according to the release.

Eligible applicants must hold a valid certificate of occupancy and food dealer license, complete the online application, attach a site plan with the application showing the proposed layout of the outdoor dining area and obtain required city or state liquor license approvals if serving alcohol in the outdoor dining area.

The proposal next heads to the full Common Council, which is scheduled to next meet on June 16.

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Alex Zank, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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