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Jersey barriers in place and outdoor dining preparations being made at establishments at First and Olive streets (Al Lohman/The Patriot)

Several Waconia bars and restaurants were expected to open to outdoor business this week following city council action in response to Gov. Tim Walz’s earlier directives regarding a phased re-opening of the state amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

At a special meeting last Wednesday, May 27, the council passed a resolution amending various ordinances around use of outdoor space to take effect June 1 enabling local establishments to extend their operations beyond pickup and takeout.

Some 16 local business representatives were in attendance at the first in-person council meeting in several weeks, with council members and staff practicing social distancing behind plexiglass panels in council chambers at city hall.

The resolution passed last Wednesday includes outdoor seating provisions for four different kinds of accommodations: private parking lots, shared parking lots, municipal parking lots and city streets, and sidewalks.

The city is allowing businesses to use up to four parking spaces for outdoor service in shared parking lots or a city street, and up to 25 percent of space in privately owned parking lots.

On publicly owned streets, the city has provided and set up concrete jersey barriers for those businesses that occupy portions of the street. On privately owned spaces, businesses will source their own materials to create barriers for outdoor seating.

On sidewalks, the city is not requiring barriers between the tables and the walking path; however, a minimum of pathway of 48 inches on sidewalks must be maintained to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

A refundable damage deposit to the city is required for the use of sidewalks, street and parking lot space.

The resolution grants partial refunds for holders of alcohol, cigarette and amusement licenses related to lost use of those licenses from March 17 when state shelter in place orders took effect to July 1 Total refunds among businesses are expected to amount to almost $13,500.

The resolution for outdoor use will be in place throughout the entire outdoor season, or Oct. 31, regardless of what happens in terms of guidance around indoor dining, according to city leaders.

The reason is to allow for businesses to get set up and operate in the event there is a change in the guidance later, or a surge in cases that causes businesses to choose to close their interior space once it is allowed to reopen.

In other business last Wednesday, the council authorized an appraisal for a portion of land on what is known as the Fabel property on the west end of Waconia for possible acquisition for a future road corridor linking Trunk Highway 284 and County Highway 10 via township road 102nd Street.

A County 10 road corridor alignment study was authorized in August 2018 in anticipation of future development of the Fabel and Peitz properties located immediately west of the Oak Pointe development. The road alignment as proposed divides the Fabel parcel and about 5.8 acres of land are necessary to construct the roadway corridor.

Costs for the appraisal will be split between Carver County and the city.

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