City Commission briefs

Sidewalk dining regulation eased

City commissioners on Tuesday unanimously agreed to loosen some regulations determining which businesses can have sidewalk dining areas.

But commissioners stopped short of saying bars could have the sidewalk seating areas, which currently are limited to restaurants. Commissioners, though, said restaurants applying for sidewalk seating areas should have to show that they are making 55 percent of their sales from food to qualify for the sidewalk seating area. Currently, restaurants must show that 70 percent of their sales come from food.

Several downtown bars that serve no food, however, have sought to have the seating areas.

Those bars owners asked commissioners to drop the food sales requirement entirely for sidewalk seating areas. Commissioners said they wanted more information from staff members about allowing the approximately 15 to 20 bar-only establishments to add sidewalk areas.

Commissioners said they would consider the idea, in part, because existing city zoning law will not allow for any new bar-only businesses to open in the downtown area.

School crossing guard guidelines approved

Commissioners unanimously approved a new policy that allows the city to consider more factors when determining whether a location qualifies for a school crossing guard.

The new policy takes posted speed limits into greater consideration.

It also takes into consideration the number of lanes of traffic and the sight distance of a particular location.

Timetable set for N. Lawrence project

A project to rebuild the intersection of North Second and Locust streets should be completed by Oct. 21, according to a new plan approved by commissioners.

The city is expected to take bids on the project on Feb. 20. If the project isn’t open for traffic by Oct. 21, the contractor will be penalized $2,500 a day. If work is completed by Sept. 1, the contractor will be paid a bonus of $50,000. If work is completed between Sept. 1 and Oct. 18, the contractor will receive a bonus of $1,000 per day, up to $30,000.

The city is pushing to get the project completed quickly because it will reduce North Second Street to one lane of traffic in both directions.

The total project, minus the bonuses, is expected to cost $1.9 million, with the state paying up to $1 million.