Outdoor dining in Libertyville extended to May 1

  • Diners enjoy the outdoor eating area at the Townee Square Restaurant Thursday morning in Libertyville. The village board has extended outdoor dining to May 1 and waived a requirement for fire sprinklers in tents.

      Diners enjoy the outdoor eating area at the Townee Square Restaurant Thursday morning in Libertyville. The village board has extended outdoor dining to May 1 and waived a requirement for fire sprinklers in tents. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • The Liberty Restaurant has outdoor dining under a tent along Milwaukee Avenue. Village officials extended measure for outdoor dining to May 1.

      The Liberty Restaurant has outdoor dining under a tent along Milwaukee Avenue. Village officials extended measure for outdoor dining to May 1. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 9/25/2020 9:33 AM

Tents for outdoor dining in Libertyville will be allowed until May 1, in a village show of support for restaurants that have been limited by state regulations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Village officials in May waived fees, allowed tents and suspended parking and sign requirements to enhance opportunities for outdoor dining.

 

As the pandemic continued and state regulations didn't ease, Libertyville officials extended the measures to Nov. 1. With no substantive changes apparent, village officials agreed to continue the practices through winter.

"We've definitely noticed an uptick in diners utilizing the tented spaces this summer and spending time downtown," said Jennifer Johnson, executive director of MainStreet Libertyville, a downtown revitalization and marketing group.

"Allowing restaurants to increase their dining capacity with tents and extending the season for which they may be used will undoubtedly help keep restaurants in business," she added.

The village board on Tuesday unanimously agreed to extend temporary outdoor dining permits to May 1, and to create a "COVID-19 pandemic exception" that allows tent uses to be renewed without the need for fire sprinklers.

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However, before a tent can be occupied under winter conditions, requirements for structural stability for snow and wind loads, exit paths and doors, and specifications for heating, ventilation and electric systems will have to be followed.

Each temporary tent can be up to 1,500 square feet, with a maximum of 49 persons allowed inside. The tents will be inspected at least once every three months, according to the extended rules.

"It's really just an expansion of their dining," said John Spoden, community development director. "They're under the same limitations as indoors."

This will be an option for those still uncomfortable eating inside a restaurant, village Trustee Scott Adams said. He also is the president and CEO of the GLMV Chamber of Commerce, which includes more than 200 restaurants in Green Oaks, Libertyville, Mundelein and Vernon Hills.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Some restaurants have been doing better than others but outdoor dining has helped, he said.

"I think overall, it's presented a good atmosphere downtown," Adams said. "What the winter will bring us is something else. We don't know that."

Trustee Rich Moras said tent ventilation has to be monitored and may need to be revisited if new information regarding COVID transmission surfaces, for example.

"It's a lot more porous than being indoors," Adams said. "These tent companies are pretty smart. I'm pretty proactive so that's not something that bothers me."

Vernon Hills and Mundelein also enacted temporary measures to assist eating and drinking establishments.

Mundelein is open to "any and all ideas" from restaurant owners regarding outdoor dining to keep them viable through the winter, said Dawn Jenich, communications manager.

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