DURHAM — Downtown restaurants, bars and nightclubs may now serve alcohol to sidewalk patrons with the blessing of the law.
By a unanimous vote, and without discussion, the City Council approved a revised outdoor seating ordinance that legalizes what many eating and drinking establishments were already doing.
The ordinance had provided for restaurants in some areas to offer seating and service on public sidewalks, but did not provide for selling alcohol there. After pointing that out to Durham officials, state Alcohol Law Enforcement officers agreed to withhold enforcing the law while the city made a code amendment.
An early draft of the ordinance allowed only restaurants to serve alcohol outside, a point that prompted strong objection from some bar owners, Downtown Durham Inc. and City Councilman Mike Woodard at the councils Oct. 4 work session.
With bars and private clubs banned fro sidewalk service, downtown would lose a lot of the vitality and urbanity, said Melissa Muir of DDI.
City Manager Tom Bonfield and Police Chief Jose L. Lopez supported the restriction, but council members sided with the opposition and the ordinance was rewritten to include bars and nightclubs.
The outdoor seating ordinance was approved on the consent agenda, along with new regulations for reviewing applications for annexation and water-sewer extensions outside the city limits. The new regulations do away with the Urban Growth Area that had defined areas adjoining the city where planners anticipated future growth.
State legislators attempted to force Durham to provide utilities to any applicant within the Urban Growth Area, which included the controversial 751 South subdivision. Their bill was defeated by a single vote in the last General Assembly session.