City to permit parklets for
outdoor dining in downtown area
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[April 07, 2021]
As soon as the application is completed, downtown eateries will be
able to apply and receive permission to establish outdoor dining
areas on city property in Lincoln for the summer.
Lincoln aldermen on Monday night approved by unanimous vote
permitting two city parking spaces per establishment to be blocked
off and used for the outdoor experience. This follows a year where
that indoor dining was not permitted. In 2020 the outdoor option was
given to local eateries to help them keep their doors open during
The outdoor option was so well received by customers, that this
year, even though inside seating is allowed, local eateries are
interested in offering it again.
Aldermen began discussing the request at the last committee of the
whole meeting in March and continued the discussion at the April 5th
At the original discussion, the outline for the application process
included an annual permit fee of $100 per parking space, with up to
four spaces allowed side by side if shared by two or more
Acting Mayor Tracy Welch and Alderman Kevin Bateman said that they
would be in favor of giving the businesses the spots free of charge
for the next year or two to help them recover from revenues lost in
2020. At the same time, City Treasurer Chuck Conzo was hoping for
more money as it is his responsibility to assist the city in
generating revenue for itself after such a trying year.
At the committee of the whole meeting, aldermen settled on $100 per
space annual fee.
This week, the topic of what to charge came up again and aldermen
continued to advocate for a lesser fee. Bateman, Welch and others
agreed that this should be a case where that the city was not in it
for the money, but rather was offering local businesses a new way to
generate income and at the same time add interest to the downtown
During the meeting, Busey Roate with Spirited Republic and Limerick
Brewing on Pulaski Street addressed the council. He began by
thanking the council for their help in 2020 and said it was his
opinion the outdoor serving saved his businesses. He said that he
had customers who were anxious to see the outdoor seating return
this year, and he encouraged the council to pass the motion to
Roate also noted that he has already started getting together the
materials he will need for his parklet. He said that he had invested
$3,000 in furnishings and would also be investing in the required
stationary barriers as outlined in the ordinance.
Stationary safety barriers are required to separate the dining area
from traffic and adjacent parking spaces. The barriers may be
decorated by the businesses and should be done so in a tasteful
During the discussion Monday night, aldermen agreed that the city
should, for the next couple of years at least, reduce the fee to a
minimal amount. They settled on a fee of $25 per parklet (two
spaces) per year.
Rick Hoefle, who will be taking office the first of May as Ward 4
Alderman, did caution aldermen that he felt the city was giving away
several parking spaces and that it could hinder shopper parking for
other businesses. Welch said that the spaces allotted would be
located directly in front of the business's storefront, so that
wasn’t a concern from his point of view. In addition, the ordinance
states there shall be no more than two parklets per city block.
Welch said that he also felt that there would be no more than three
or four downtown businesses who took advantage of the parklet, so
again that would not be a significant number of parking spaces lost.
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The aldermen also talked about offering city owned picnic tables to those who do
not yet have the means to purchase furnishings or store them off season.
They agreed on a monthly per table rental fee which is more in tune with being a
security deposit. Each table shall rent for $25 per month. At the end of the
season, if tables are returned undamaged with little wear and tear, the full
amount paid for rent during the season will be returned to the business.
Welch said that he did want to limit the number of city owned tables made
available to businesses. It was estimated that the city owns more than 20 tables
that are not designated to a city park. Last year the city had taken tables from
the city parks to give to the downtown businesses, but they would not be doing
that this year. Welch also noted that the city is planning to hold the Third
Friday Downtown events this summer and needed tables for that as well.
Aldermen decided that the number of total tables being offered should not exceed
15, and that tables would be rented out on a first come first served basis.
If tables are damaged and need to be repaired or replaced, the cost of the
repair or replacement will be deducted from the monthly rent per table paid by
Aldermen discussed the application and approval process. It was suggested that
the application would be filed and approved by the building and zoning office.
If an application was not approved then the applicant could appeal to the
council. However, Ron Fleshman thought would not be right. He said that the
Building and Safety Officer Wes Woodhall would be the expert in the safety of
the parklet and whether or not the business was prepared to comply with the
ordinance rules. Therefore, his decision should not be usurped by the city
council. He said the council should respect that Woodhall will do his job
correctly and that if an applicant is denied then the city should stand behind
It was also discussed that if an application did not pass, the business owner
could make changes to their plan for a parklet and re-apply.
The ordinance states that the parklets shall be permitted from April 1st to
November 1st from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
City Attorney John Hoblit said that the application was not yet ready. He said
it was almost finished and should be completed soon. He added that the
application would have to be changed now to reflect the fee changes and added
option of table rental. He asked if the aldermen wanted to approve immediately
the application contingent on the changes outlined on Monday evening. The other
option would be to bring the application back for review at the April 13th
committee of the whole and approve at the April 19th voting meeting.
Bateman said that the downtown businesses were anxious to get their parklets set
up so he would be okay with approving the application immediately. Others
Hoblit will move forward with finishing the application document and parklets
should be showing up in the downtown area probably later this month.