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Alexandria could extend relaxing of zoning ordinances for businesses through this summer

(Updated 3 p.m.) Alexandria’s been a little more laisse faire about zoning restrictions in some ways for local businesses since the pandemic started, and a new amendment put forward by city staff could see that extend until the end of June.

Not long into the pandemic, the city approved a temporary relaxation of handful of ordinances to help make life a little easier for local businesses going through the worst throes of the pandemic’s economic impact.

Every few months those have had to get extended, and with the easing of restrictions currently scheduled to end on April 1, city staff are proposing to continue that through June 30.

“As the April 1 temporary program expiration drew near, staff learned from the business community that it could use more time to transition from the temporary business programs to the permanent ones, especially as it expended added effort and financial resources to stay viable during the onset of the Omicron variant,” a report on the amendment said. “The proposed extension in this ordinance to June 30 aligns with the recently extended date of the City’s declaration of local emergency and would provide restaurants and retailers the benefit of more time to submit applications for commercial parklets and construct the necessary decking for those who choose to continue use of on-street parking spaces.”

Under the ordinance:

  • All restaurants are allowed to provide delivery service and pick-up service. Delivery vehicles and customer pick-ups may use on-street parking subject to posted parking requirements
  • Hours-of-operation regulations have been suspended for restaurants, convenience stores, catering operations and automobile service stations (gasoline stations)
  • Restaurants and retail establishments can vend on adjacent sidewalks or parking lots
  • There are suspensions of local restrictions on alcohol sales, including off-premises alcohol sales and delivery restrictions
  • Participants can to set up outdoor dining in parking spaces outside of their businesses
  • In all other areas of the City, outdoor dining is permitted on restaurant property and in the public right-of-way (sidewalks, parking spaces, parking lots)
  • Restaurant operators may use off-street spaces located on the same property for outdoor dining where it will not detrimentally impact adjacent uses
  • Retail businesses may request the use of sidewalks, on-street parking spaces, and privately-owned parking lots and spaces to display their products and conduct sales
  • Health and fitness business operators may use sidewalks, privately-owned parking lots and spaces and on-street parking spaces to offer classes and provide access to fitness
    equipment, where it will not detrimentally impact adjacent uses

The proposal is scheduled for review at the Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, March 1.

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