TALLADEGA -- The Talladega City Council voted 4-0 Monday evening to approve a revised ordinance to allow seating and other uses of municipal sidewalks.
Councilman David Street was present but abstained from voting.
Street said later in the meeting he had “concerns about some of the changes” made to an earlier version of the ordinance but was not necessarily opposed.
According to a memo provided to the council from City Manager Beth Cheeks, “The city administration has done a great deal of research on sidewalk permit ordinances from several different cities and towns in Alabama and Georgia.
“The first version of this ordinance was presented to council on Nov. 19, 2018, followed by two public hearings. Changes have been made to the original version to incorporate some of the public comments/concerns and recommendations from council members.
“Now that the city is within a few months of receiving ownership of the remainder of the sidewalks and rights of way around The Courthouse Square, the new version of the ordinance is being presented to the council.”
When Street asked specifically what had been changed, Cheeks said the primary differences were that a drawing from an architect, engineer or other registered professional was no longer required, and that the permit fee had been lowered from $35 to $25.
The ordinance applies to all sidewalks in the city limits and is meant to make sure they accommodate all pedestrians, wheelchairs and visually impaired people, Cheeks said. Permits to place items, including tables and chairs, will be limited to sidewalks that are 5 feet wide or wider.
“It would be nice if the sidewalks were wide enough to allow all sorts of seating and planters and signage and even bicycle parking, but in Talladega, unfortunately, that is not the case. So, we must regulate what we can and cannot do in this limited space,” Cheeks explained.
Barriers, such as fences, must be put up when tables are on the roadside or parking lot side of a sidewalk, and only one permit will be allowed per storefront or business.
The permit is good for one calendar year. The permit application must include owner contact information, a scale layout of the proposed display or seating arrangement, and a copy of the liability insurance certificate.
Umbrellas and outdoor furniture cannot have logos on them, waiter service and point of sale are not allowed on sidewalks, and the area must be kept clean and swept often. Garbage containers must be emptied at least daily and more often as needed, and plants and planters must be maintained and in good condition.
Glass containers are not allowed, and “no political, racial, obscene or demeaning items shall be allowed on the sidewalk,” Cheeks said. “Violations will be dealt with as quickly as possible,” with fines ranging from $100 to $250 per incident. The permit will be revoked after four violations.
She added the permit fee was included in the ordinance but reduced “because the business is using public, city-owned property to increase sales by attracting attention, advertising, etc. The city cannot aid a private entity without compensation.”
Further coverage of Monday’s meeting will appear in a future edition of The Daily Home.