After a few objections from one trustee, Arlington Heights approved outdoor dining for a downtown restaurant at a public park.
The Arlington Heights village board on Monday formally approved a request from Carlos and Carlos, 27 W. Campbell St., to create an outdoor dining space that will take up some of Harmony Park, a village owned public space starting later this month.
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The vote was 7-1 with Trustee Mike Sidor voting against the plan. Trustee John Scaletta was absent.
"Last week I voted for this, but since then I've been talking to residents," Sidor said of his support for the idea during a committee of the whole meeting earlier this month. "Everyone likes the idea of outdoor dining, but people had an issue with the exclusivity of it and if there is no rent."
Sidor suggested that Carlos and Carlos instead put tables along the street frontage, something that is newly allowed under a changed outdoor dining policy also approved by the board Monday.
Sidor also said he was concerned about legal issues with a state grant the village received to build Harmony Park for public use.
Several lawyers on the board said they felt comfortable with the use, and Trustee Thomas Glasgow said he spoke with the village's attorney Jack Segal about the issue.
"His opinion was that this falls within the use of the grant," Glasgow said.
Segal was not at Monday's meeting.
The village decided to grant Carlos and Carlos a license for park space, rather than draw up a lease.
"We have stronger control over the petitioner that way," Glasgow said. "It's easier to revoke a petitioner for nonconformance as opposed to a lease."
Glasgow said it's not a matter of exclusivity, but a unique situation with Carlos and Carlos being the only restaurant located next to a public park.
"You should be rewarded for having the foresight to build on this particular piece of property," Glasgow told the restaurant owners. "We want this board to be pro-business and we want your business to succeed in Arlington Heights."
The 11-foot by 21-foot space will make up about 2 percent of Harmony Park, said Village Manager Bill Dixon.
The restaurant will not be allowed to use the space during large-scale village events such as the Mane Event and Taste of Arlington.
When the restaurant is closed, the tables will still be available as kind of an "open campus" for downtown patrons to sit at to eat, read or enjoy, the owners said.