Alfresco dining in Rolling Meadows can continue in the cold
Rolling Meadows aldermen Tuesday extended the city's allowance of outdoor dining indefinitely -- through the winter, and until there's a COVID-19 vaccine or effective treatment -- amid the pending expiration of a temporary program on Nov. 1.
During a meeting held virtually, the city council unanimously approved an ordinance to extend outdoor dining until the region that includes Rolling Meadows advances to Stage 5 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan. The 7-0 vote was taken without debate after aldermen agreed to a request from City Manager Barry Krumstok to advance the measure to final second reading approval so he and his staff would have more time to communicate new rules to businesses.
When the council approved an expansion of outdoor dining on June 3, the ordinance came with a Nov. 1 expiration date.
"We believe the extra time to notify the businesses in the city is beneficial," Krumstok said.
City officials say extending outdoor dining will help restaurateurs compensate for reduced indoor capacity and diminished income since the pandemic took hold in March.
But among the new conditions eateries must adhere to, temporary outdoor shelters must be capable of withstanding average snow and wind loads through December as calculated by the National Weather Service.
Any structure that cannot must be removed after the first 2-foot snowfall and can't be reinstalled until May, according to the city ordinance.
Any tents that are more than 400 square feet or include tent side walls must submit and receive an approved permit from city inspectors. Free-standing, residential-style backyard tents aren't allowed.
Because tents with more than half of side walls down are considered indoor dining by the state, city officials presented a caveat that such enclosed tents wouldn't be permitted if the region were to move back to Stage 3 from the current Stage 4.
The city's fire marshal will also be conducting inspections to ensure accessory heaters and equipment comply with international fire codes.