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Newport amends ordinance that hampered outdoor dining in some areas

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Posted at 11:55 AM, Sep 11, 2023

NEWPORT, Ky. — The City of Newport has revised an ordinance that prevented some bars and restaurants from being able to utilize outdoor dining spaces, according to a press release from Newport's city manager.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, bars and restaurants relied on outdoor seating to remain open while keeping patrons safe.

But businesses in Newport struggled with city restrictions that meant those options couldn't be leveraged by every business owner throughout the city. First, Newport restaurants and bars grappled with a city ordinance that prohibited tables and chairs on public sidewalks before March and after October.

Now, an ordinance that placed restrictions on outdoor dining for bars and restaurants in residential neighborhoods has been revised. The original ordinance sparked concerns from business owners that it had the potential to put some businesses in Newport at a disadvantage over others, the city manager's office said.

Now, revisions introduced will instead implement a requirement that new businesses in residential neighborhoods conduct a public opinion survey of nearby homeowners within a 75-foot radius of the business as part of the process to apply for outdoor seating permits. Bars and restaurants that apply for outdoor seating permits will also be subject to an annual review, according to the city manager's office.

In addition, the modified permit process introduces operating hour restrictions: Approved outdoor seating in those residential areas can be utilized up until 9 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and up until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Those hours can change if the residents in the area indicate on the survey that they're open to it. In those cases, the latest closing time allowed for outdoor seating is midnight.

City officials said the modification of the ordinance was in direct response to concerns raised by business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I really believe that together, we've overcome a lot of concerns, eliminated potential inequities and really developed high standards and accountability that are going to help this be a success going forward," said Julie Smith-Morrow, city commissioner, in a press release.

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