Palatine approves plan for more outdoor dining starting in March
After receiving early inquiries from restaurants and bars that want to set up outdoor dining when the weather gets better, the Palatine village council approved a plan Monday to allow it.
Outdoor dining on public sidewalks will be permitted starting March 1, if eateries take on the responsibility of sidewalk snow removal.
Outdoor dining in certain downtown streets -- taking up parking spots up to a certain limit -- will be allowed starting April 1, although that can be moved up if the weather gets warmer sooner.
Councilman Brad Helms, whose district includes downtown, proposed allowing establishments to set up outdoor dining in streets, such as with tents and heaters, in March, no matter the weather.
"Our establishments have difficulty every year, outside of the pandemic, coming out of winter, and they look forward to March Madness," Helms said. "They will still be under restrictions (due to COVID-19), so they won't have the capacity they would (normally)."
The issue would be snow removal, Village Manager Reid Ottesen said. The village would require the installation of concrete barriers to protect street diners from cars that might slip and slide in the snow, which means that on certain streets, the access will become too narrow for village snowplows, he said.
Hiring a private contractor to do that would cost up to $1,200 for a heavy snowfall, Ottesen said. He's reluctant to take on additional expenses after cutting costs and personnel due to the financial effects of COVID-19, he said.
Mayor Jim Schwantz suggested that in such cases where access is restricted, the village could requiring the establishments to hire private snow removal if they set up outside earlier in March. Ottesen said he would be OK with that.
"I think that's fair. We put it back in their court," Helms agreed, with the assent of fellow council members.
Hours of operation for outdoor dining would be 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Music could only be acoustic or prerecorded, and it must end at 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Last year's outdoor dining program was successful, Ottesen said. The only complaints were about loud music at one establishment, and they were deemed unfounded, he said.