Paxton considers merchants' use of sidewalk space

Paxton considers merchants' use of sidewalk space

PAXTON — Downtown business owners should soon receive guidance on what can be placed on the sidewalks outside their shops.

City officials want to do away with the permit requirement now in effect. They also acknowledge that certain business owners are overusing the sidewalk space to expand their sales or storage space.

A meeting of the city's property, parks and forestry committee was held this week to address the issue. Discussion centered on finding middle ground.

Committee Chairman Marc Amore said using the sidewalk can be "a great idea and a great way to grab customers" for store owners.

He said guidelines are needed, however, to address large or hazardous items and to maintain enough space to meet Americans with Disability Act requirements.

City Attorney Ross Sorenson said ordinances from other communities fell into three main approaches: to do nothing, to have a special permitting process for permanent activities like sidewalk cafes, and to create an ordinance with specific parameters.

Debi Chapman-Hermann, who owns an antique store, said when she began placing a few items on the sidewalk, "business popped."

However, Mayor Bill Ingold said some overuse of sidewalks by some other merchants had precipitated the committee meeting.

A consensus about space and type of items was reached, and Sorenson will prepare an ordinance for consideration at the next full council meeting.

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