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Annapolis City Council expands outdoor dining, allows restaurants to rent parking spots – Capital Gazette

Outdoor dining will expand in Annapolis this weekend thanks to an expedited ordinance that allows restaurants to lease city-owned parking spaces.

The city council approved the rental procedures at a meeting on Monday evening after a long and sometimes heated discussion. The new ordinance O-16-22, restores for free the privileges that many restaurants have enjoyed during the pandemic. Businesses will now be required to reimburse the city for lost parking revenue, pay extra for facilities and comply with various other approval measures.

The program allowing restaurants to set up tables in parking lots, called “parklets”, is separate from legislation passed in April that extended outdoor dining in parking lots – another pandemic pivot that has proven popular – until the end of October. Unlike the April order, the new one does not have an expiration date.

Mayor Gavin Buckley has urged council to quickly pass the ‘parklet’ measure so that four restaurants ready to sign leases can accommodate more diners during commissioning week.

“It’s the busiest weekend of the season,” Buckley said. “They wish they could do it tomorrow.”

But two aldermen accused the mayor of rushing the process and expressed concern about giving city employees the power to approve leases, rather than having every candidate appear before council. Alderman DaJuan Gay, a Ward 6 Democrat, pointed out that the Annapolis Law Office failed to share the lease template with council members before the meeting, prompting the mayor to declare a break while the staff made photocopies of the 20-page document.

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When called back into session, Alderman Ross Arnett, a Ward 8 Democrat, asked more than a dozen questions, some of them rhetorical, about the rental of parking spaces and the process put in place by the employees of the city ​​and council rules committee.

“Any restaurant can enter and be automatically approved,” Arnett said. “It’s letting the genie out of the bottle.”

Other council members supported the program, which council had previously approved the concept of and city staff spent months codifying.

“Candidates will go through a pretty thorough check,” said Ellie Tierney, a Ward 1 Democrat, who read the steps aloud on the city’s website.

Alderman Rhonda Pindell-Charles, a Democrat representing Ward 3, noted that the lease requires restaurants to install security gates and hold proper insurance policies, requirements she said would weed out nonchalant applicants. “I’m comfortable with it,” she said.

Rental rates for “parklets” start at $16.60 and go up to $50 per day for parking spots on Main Street.

The measure passed unanimously after the council suspended rules to pass the bill at the same meeting at which it was introduced. Arnett asked that the council receive updates when leases are signed and for what rates. City Manager David Jarrell agreed to this request.

Deena S. Hawkins

The author Deena S. Hawkins