By Jessica Mathews/

An emergency resolution has been approved by the Fenton City Council to help streamline the application process for the city to review and approve new outdoor seating for bars and restaurants in the downtown area when they’re able to re-open.

Fenton Mayor Sue Osborn executed Emergency Resolution 2020-02 to facilitate the process for expanded outdoor seating when bars and restaurants are permitted to re-open under Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders. Council met virtually Tuesday night to approve a resolution affirming that declaration and the need to take active steps to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. The resolution states that bars and restaurants play a vital role in Fenton’s vibrant community and have been economically challenged due to the suspension of dine-in service to prevent the spread of the virus.

City Manager Lynn Markland told Council when restaurants are allowed to re-open, social distancing will be required so seating will be significantly reduced and those businesses will need to look toward outdoor seating to pick up more capacity. He said administration requested the emergency resolution, which allows for an administrative review process for that expanded outdoor seating. Markland told Council that he, Assistant City Manager Mike Hart and Joe Wright, who designed the Downtown Streetscape, walked throughout the downtown area on Tuesday. He said they were looking at looking at opportunities for more outdoor seating, as well as areas to make sure pedestrians are still safe as they walk through the downtown area with that additional seating. Markland said conversations were had with local businesses and all expressed they are planning on doing outdoor seating. He stated that more information would be forthcoming to Council.

Markland clarified that the resolution does not allow restaurants and bars to expand their sale of beverages containing alcohol because that authority still rests with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. He said there has been some conversation and a bill has been introduced that would allow local units of governments to grant those requests on a temporary basis but it is still under consideration and may or may not become law.

The resolution was approved unanimously and takes immediate effect. A copy can be viewed in the attached meeting packet.