ROCK SPRINGS — Restaurant patio dining on outdoor tables could be coming to downtown Rock Springs if a suggestion by Mayor Carl Demshar is enacted by the city council.
At their Wednesday evening meeting members of the city Planning & Zoning Commission discussed a report from Interim City Planner Steve Horton which quoted extensively from a recent Demshar memo.
According to Horton, Demshar suggested allowing patio dining, essentially along Broadway Avenue, during warm months of the year, possibly May 1 through the end of October, with the outdoor tables being removed during the cold weather months.
“’It would be well to evaluate it,’” Demshar’s memo said, according to Horton. “’It would enhance our downtown development efforts.’”
The memo proposal would have particular applicability for Bitter Creek Brewing, Horton added. The idea of patio dining originally came from Rock Springs Urban Renewal Agency/Main Street Manager Chad Banks.
It would be best if the city council could act quickly, Horton said, so that an ordinance regarding outdoor patio dining could be in place by the start of the season, around May 1.
The Interim City Planner added that he already has a rough draft of an ordinance regarding patio dining. Park City, Utah’s ordinance and practices regarding patio dining at restaurants was used as a guideline.
Commission members aired some potential problems that would need to be addressed before any approval could be given for outdoor patio dining.
P&Z Chairman Joe Drnas expressed concern about how many parking spaces would have to be eliminated downtown and what the impact might be on emergency vehicles trying to get down Broadway.
“That would be my question as well,” commissioner Sue Lozier asked. “How many parking spaces are going to be taken away?”
Commissioner Keaton West asked somewhat jokingly if the object of the patio idea was to reduce the number of cars on Broadway.
Possibly only two or three parking spaces downtown would have to be eliminated, Horton responded to the questions. “We can see how that works,” he said.
Regulations prohibiting access restrictions on fire hydrants would be included in the patio ordinance. The patio tables would have umbrellas.
“I’m just thinking about that deck sitting out there at 2 o’clock in the morning,” Commissioner Tim Sheehan remarked.
Horton said he would provide photos of Park City and the outdoor patios there so that the Planning & Zoning Commission and others can see how the idea can work.
In any case, no decision for or against the proposal is likely in a hurry. “What the mayor may have been thinking of was holding a public hearing,” Horton said.