Vienna Expands, But Tightens, Outdoor Dining Opportunities | news / fairfax

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Restaurants in the city of Vienna will be able to use their temporary permits to eat al fresco until next June, but on December 6, the Vienna city council also approved some additional restrictions to protect neighboring residences.

Residents and restaurateurs have shown considerable enthusiasm for al fresco dining during the pandemic and the latter say the relaxed rules – which allow the city manager to issue special permits for such activities instead of forcing restaurateurs to pass. by the more expensive and laborious process of obtaining conditions. license to use – helped these companies survive during the crisis.

But residents of Wilmar Place, NW, loudly complained at a November 15 council meeting that din of diners supping in the back parking lot of a Church Street, NW, site of Bazin’s on Church and Blend restaurants. 111 prevented them from enjoying their backyards.

The owners stressed that they had shown tolerance during the pandemic, but did not want the roaring to be a permanent situation hallowed by city policy.

In a November 30 working session, Council members worked out what they felt was a good compromise going forward, and then made a number of changes at the December 6 meeting.

On December 6, council members voted 7-0 to extend until December 31 the current special permits for alfresco dining issued under the temporary rules, which 22 restaurants have obtained.

The rules save restaurants from having to obtain conditional use permits, which would cost $ 1,500 and require a review by the Vienna Planning Commission and a final decision by the city’s Zoning Appeal Board.

In addition, these temporary rules allow the use of off-street parking spaces for meals. Thirteen of the special permit holders took the opportunity to provide seating in 58 parking spaces, city officials said.

On December 6, city council also unanimously approved an amendment to the text of the zoning ordinance to maintain the temporary rules for another six months until June 30, 2022. But the language had other conditions, including : be authorized per off-street parking space. This will reduce noise and potentially free up more parking spaces, Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert said.

• Outdoor meals within 60 feet of the property line of zoned residential properties can be occupied from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. : 30 h on Saturdays.

Council had originally planned to set the meal cut-off time at 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, but decided to reduce it further to appease neighbors. Some council members have argued for a later date, saying Friday and Saturday nights are the times when many restaurants make the most money.

Blend 111 and Bazin’s on Church are the only restaurants in town where the new rules for hours of operation and distance from residential properties apply.

Restaurants that break city noise rules will first be warned and then fined for civil offenses, city attorney Steven Briglia said.

The Council will spend the next few months examining options for permanent outdoor dining rules. Council member Ray Brill said he and his interim colleagues should check on the city’s outdoor dining situation in person to get an idea of ​​how much noise is being generated.

Colbert accepted wholeheartedly, with his tongue on his cheek.

“It’s still my evening vote,” she said. “Go out to a restaurant, don’t cook.”