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Alexandria looking to loosen up a little for on-street dining

With the City of Alexandria returning to regulating on-street retail and restaurant uses, including adding a price tag for the benefit, the City Council is also scheduled to review a few changes to make the process a little less onerous.

At a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 11, the Council is set to take a look at some changes to reduce redundancies and streamline the process for businesses hoping to make use of sidewalk and street space.

The first change is that businesses can open not only in front of their own location but can make use of space in front of a neighbor’s business or restaurant — provided obviously that they get permission from that business or restaurant.

Alexandria also had some fairly restrictive requirements about types and numbers of outdoor seating, which the new ordinance does away with: the only requirement being compliance with the statewide building code. The only remnant of that requirement is that the sidewalk can’t be used as storage for seating. The ordinance also gets rid of a restriction on outdoor dining between Thanksgiving and March.

Because many of these uses are being added to much older developments, the ordinance also includes a change that the outdoor dining must adhere to the city’s outdoor dining design guidelines. On-street retail or restaurant space only has to go to the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services or the Board of Architectural Review if the outdoor additions penetrate the sidewalk.

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