Libertyville makes regulations for temporary outdoor dining permanent

Regulations involving seasonal outdoor dining in Libertyville have been made permanent and a measure making it easier to create year-round outdoor eating areas reinstated.

Rules allowing for temporary outdoor dining in commercial areas first were enacted in 2020 during COVID-19 restrictions.

With wrinkles ironed out and regulations well enforced, the village staff proposed the requirements for temporary and permanent outdoor dining be formalized in zoning ordinances rather than having to address it each year.

The temporary regulations are the same as last year but codified to recognize the benefits of outdoor dining and make it easier for restaurants to plan ahead, according to John Spoden, community development director.

Temporary outdoor dining is allowed from May 1 to Oct. 31, and an annual permit costing $100 is required to ensure the necessary insurance and locations are in place.

According to the code, temporary dining can be placed on private property or village-owned public ways but not in parking lots or spaces. If it's put in a public area, a 4-foot-wide pedestrian access is required.

An example would be the Firkin restaurant, Spoden said, which again will be using an alley south of its building and provide full pedestrian access. Operators are not required to supply parking for temporary outdoor dining.

Tents used for temporary outdoor dining must meet building and fire code regulations and be made of a flame-resistant grade and quality to withstand weather conditions. Also, amplified live music is not allowed at outdoor temporary or permanent facilities.

Temporary facility holders who violate the public access rule will be warned, and if they don't comply within 10 days, the permit will be revoked or suspended. The ordinance also says violators may be subject to fines of up to $500 per day per offense.

"People have grown to value additional outdoor dining options," said Heather Rowe, economic development manager. Making the rules part of the zoning code gives restaurants confidence they can offer what customers are looking for, she added.

According to Rowe, temporary spaces are a benefit to restaurants without room to build permanent patios. They are especially important for some historic properties, she added

"Several restaurants have made applications, and we're working to issue permits," according to Rowe.

The zoning code also was amended to reinstate a measure allowing 1,500-square-foot additions in the downtown commercial district without requiring additional parking.

The change will address requested small additions and existing covered outdoor dining areas and are limited to one per building every five years.

"We think this is an olive branch to help businesses," Mayor Donna Johnson said last week during a GLMV Chamber of Commerce event.

Brian Grano, owner/operator of Mickey Finn's Brewery in downtown Libertyville, said the change is "a very good thing for all local restaurants and retailers."

"In our case, it would allow us to put a permanent roof over part of our beer garden to make it more usable all year round. And more comfortable for our guests," he added.

  Libertyville began allowing temporary outdoor dining in commercial areas in 2020. Regulations have evolved and have been made permanent. Paul Valade/, 2020
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