Newport is amending its outdoor dining ordinance to allow bars and restaurants in residential areas to have outdoor dining.
Newport City Manager Tom Fromme said the ordinance was two years in the making and arose after an argument made by those in favor who felt the previous ordinance put establishments at a competitive disadvantage if not allowed. He said that during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, bars and restaurants expressed a desire to be able to use outdooring dining and seating to a greater extent than in the past; however, the original ordinance did not allow for those in residential neighborhoods to do so.
The Newport City Commission unanimously approved the ordinance at its special meeting Thursday evening.
Fromme said after input from concerned residents, some key revisions were made, including requiring new interested businesses in residential neighborhoods to hold a public opinion survey of adjoining property owners within a 75-foot radius.
All the bars and restaurants that apply for an outdoor seating permit, Fromme said, will also be subject to an annual review.
“To Fromme and to (John) Hayden (assistant city manager), I’m really appreciative of all the work that you and your staff have put into this,” Newport City Commissioner Ken Rechtin said. “Especially the changes to make this ordinance more inclusive, to include all sections of the city, and I think that that we heard it loud and clear from bar owners and representatives of bars that this needs to be inclusive. So, I’m really pleased that that happened.”
The permit also regulates outdoor hours of operation for no later than 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and no later than 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Still, hours can be extended (midnight at the latest) based on the public survey results of the residents within the 75-foot radius.
“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,” Newport City Commissioner Julie Smith-Morrow said.