New outdoor seating ordinance in the works

More restaurants could have outdoor seating in downtown Marquette this summer.

Right now, restaurants have to fill out a conditional use permit, have their site plan certified, and take that plan to the planning commission for approval.

The Marquette Downtown Development Authority recently asked the Marquette City Commission to look over the ordinance and shorten the process.

“Right now the way that the ordinance reads, it is actually a conditional use in the zoning ordinance,” Marquette DDA Executive Director Mona Lang said.  “So it’s quite burdensome to apply for the ordinance–to apply for the permit–to establish and outdoor cafe or sidewalk cafe in our downtown district.”

“We’re also requesting the (Marquette) City Commission consider an additional permit to allow for those establishments that have a Michigan liquor license to serve alcohol at their sidewalk cafes.”

By streamlining the ordinance, Lang hopes it will encourage more restaurants to set up outdoor seating downtown.

“(A new ordinance) obviously allows them to expand their seating space for the summer,” she said.  “It gives people an opportunity to sit outside and enjoy our beautiful surroundings, our downtown, our lake.”

Members of the Marquette City Commission liked the idea of streamlining the process, and motioned for the ordinance to be moved to the planning commission.

The commission is hoping to have the ordinance revised by April or May, so restaurants won’t miss any of the outdoor seating season, when summer decides to roll in.