Wake County

Raleigh council allows sidewalk drinking to continue unchanged

Barkeeps won’t have to pull their tables from the sidewalks just yet. The Raleigh City Council has delayed a controversial proposal to ban certain downtown businesses from serving patrons on public sidewalks.

In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, the council rejected a plan that would have stripped about a half-dozen businesses of their sidewalk-dining permits. The original proposal would have limited the permits to businesses that make at least 30 percent of their money from restaurants, beginning next month.

Instead, the city will allow all sidewalk seating to continue as it has been until at least Aug. 1. Meanwhile, the Law and Public Safety Committee will continue to hash out potential solutions to reported problems of overcrowding and rule-breaking.

The city also will form a committee of downtown business representatives; while Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin originally wanted to exclude residents, describing it as a technical group, council members Wayne Maiorano, Kay Crowder and Russ Stephenson pushed successfully to include one downtown resident in the group. City staff will choose the members.

Meanwhile, the city will allow permitted businesses to serve sidewalk customers on July 4, despite a staff recommendation to the contrary.

It remains unclear who led the creation of the original proposal, which drew intense backlash. Council members Baldwin, John Odom and Bonner Gaylord all said that they did not know who specifically put the process in motion. Baldwin said she was considering filing a public records request to find out.

Kenney: 919-829-4870;

Twitter: @KenneyNC

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