Langley council extends outdoor dining past summer

The mayor suggested allowing outdoor structures through next summer and having the city’s new planner work with business owners to determine appropriate design parameters.

Outdoor dining in the Village by the Sea will continue through this fall and winter.

At a city council meeting Monday night, Mayor Scott Chaplin announced that at least one restaurant owner and the Langley Chamber of Commerce had approached him about extending outdoor dining beyond the summer months.

Chaplin said he was hoping a one-year commitment could be secured for the businesses wanting to set up their outdoor structures, such as tents.

Inge Morascini, the executive director for the chamber of commerce, said the one-year time period was requested because of the sheer expense of having the outdoor structures to dine in. She added that business owners want to know they have a full year before investing.

The city’s current street cafe ordinance allows outdoor dining between May 1 and Sept. 30. Last year, the council agreed to let it continue beyond that timeframe and waived fees, permits and requirements to build a structure to raise the area of parking spaces — used for the dining — to the level of the sidewalk. The original ordinance also does not not mention tents, which have been allowed.

Councilmember Thomas Gill recommended continuing to shun any additional fees for business owners looking to build the outdoor facilities.

“I know they’re kind of chomping at the bit to get this stuff constructed before the rainy season starts in October,” Gill said.

He added that he had written a draft to codify what the city has currently been doing with outdoor dining. The draft includes removing some of the limitations that were in the original code of the ordinance, such as rules for lighting, heating and screening from the road.

Chaplin suggested allowing the outdoor structures through next summer and having the city’s new planner work with business owners to determine appropriate design parameters.

“I think the idea here is they would like to make something that’s so nice and attractive that maybe during COVID we use it all through the winter,” he said of the businesses.

The council agreed unanimously. Gill said he would send his proposal to the mayor and the city’s new planner.

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