Sidewalk cafes on state roads will have new fees to pay
Published: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 8:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 8:12 p.m.
Businesses along state roads will have some new fees and regulations if they want to continue to offer seating for customers in outdoor areas.
The Florida Department of Transportation has notified the city of Gainesville that new regulations will require businesses operating sidewalk cafes or outdoor seating areas on sidewalks to pay a fee to lease the space.
The Gainesville City Plan Board unanimously approved a petition to add a $2 charge per square-foot of outside space the business have — money that will be passed on to the state.
The City Plan Board presented a petition at a meeting on Thursday detailing the plan to implement the state rules and develop a process to allow sidewalk cafes on state rights-of-way in the downtown area.
If the City Plan Board hadn't approved the petition, there would be no way for businesses to have sidewalk cafes on state roads, said city planning manager Ralph Hilliard.
The reality, however, is that most outdoor seating areas are along city streets and will not be affected. However, some businesses along Main Street, such as The Top, will be affected.
The regulations also require businesses to maintain $1 million in liability insurance for bodily injury and death and $1 million in insurance for property damage, for combined coverage of no less than $2 million.
Sidewalk cafes on state roads must now be at least five feet from the curb line of the street and from fire hydrants.
City Plan Board member Seth Lane questioned whether any businesses that already had outdoor seating would no longer be able to have such seating, and Lane was assured by Hilliard that there were no such businesses.
Crystal Goodison, City Plan Board chair, said the petition still needs to be put into city code to retain the option for outdoor seating for businesses.
Robert Ackerman, City Plan Board member, said anyone who is unhappy with the rules should take it up with the state.
"Write your legislator," he said.