City commissioners agreed to place a temporary moratorium on new sidewalk seating areas in downtown while regulations are developed, but they told staff members not to dally on the work.
Commissioners at their meeting Tuesday night followed a recommendation from the city's Historic Resources Commission to place a moratorium on new sidewalk dining applications. But commissioners also said that the moratorium should last no longer than 45 days.
Commissioners did hear from three downtown bar owners who asked commissioners to not impose the moratorium. Nick Carroll, an owner of Jackpot Saloon and the Replay Lounge, said that the city's smoking ban was beginning to hurt the city's live music scene, which had been an energizing force for the downtown area.
"The problem is we have taken some hits from the smoking ban," Carroll said. "This is a way we can recover some of our sales."
Currently 70 percent of a business' sales must come from food or nonalcoholic drinks to receive a sidewalk dining license. But commissioners have considered dropping the food requirement as a way to help downtown bars cope with the smoking ban.
Commissioners did hear from a handful of people who urged the commission to impose the moratorium. Dennis Brown, vice president of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance, said his organization had concerns about the proliferation of sidewalk dining and how it would affect the ability of pedestrians to use the area.
"While the situation is already out of hand, we are alarmed at how much worse the situation can be," Brown said.
Brown said commissioners ought to consider requiring the railing for sidewalk seating areas to be temporary so that businesses could remove it on days or hours that sidewalk dining was not feasible. He also said the commission may want to decrease the amount of sidewalk space a seating area could occupy.
The Historic Resources Commission will review sidewalk dining regulations at its meeting at 7 p.m. April 21.
Commissioners approve KU, city zoning plan
City commissioners gave unanimous approval to a new zoning agreement between Kansas University and the city.
The agreement will require the university to meet more of the city's zoning and development regulations for projects that are within 150 feet of an existing neighborhood. It also will subject university projects that are built off-campus to the city's full set of zoning regulations
Commissioners approved the agreement after it received a recommendation earlier this month from the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission. Several neighborhood representatives also supported the plan, but they told commissioners that they wanted the city to continue to monitor parking issues in the neighborhoods near the university.
Restaurant gains alcohol license
On a 4-1 vote commissioners agreed to allow PepperJax Grill, 947 N.H., to receive a drinking establishment license.
The restaurant had to receive special permission from commissioners because it is within 400 feet of a church and a school. Neither the Salvation Army, which is a church, or the Lawrence Arts Center, which is considered a school, objected to the license.
Commissioner David Schauner was the lone vote against the request.
Part of Oregon Street to be cleared out
Commissioners unanimously approved a request from Huxtable & Associates to vacate a 300-foot section of Oregon Street immediately south of the intersection of 12th and Oregon streets.
Removal of the road will allow Huxtable to move forward with plans to expand its business that provides mechanical, electrical and construction services. The section of road only directly serves the Huxtable property and vacant property owned by the city.
The expansion is estimated to add 30 to 40 new jobs with salaries between $40,000 and $60,000 a year. The project still must receive site plan approval before it can begin construction.