Flint Township allows restaurants, bars to expand outdoor seating

FLINT TWP. — In an effort to boost the local economy, Flint Township has given approval for restaurants and bars to expand outdoor seating and dining areas for customers.

On June 15, the Flint Township Board of Trustees acted on a recommendation from the Planning Commission to allow the issuing of temporary outdoor seating permits for restaurants, bars and similar businesses. This would enable restaurants and bars—which are only open at 50 percent capacity—to serve more patrons and earn additional income.

Permits issued through the township will be free of charge and will last until Oct. 31.

Tracey Tucker, Economic Enhancement Coordinator for Flint Township, said that expanded outdoor seating will be especially beneficial for restaurants, as some customers remain reluctant to dine in.

“Even with a lifting of restrictions, some people are just not willing to sit down inside to eat right now,” she said. “These outdoor permits will help our restaurants to maintain a safe space for people to have dinner and encourage customers to come back.”

To receive an outdoor seating permit, restaurants and bars will have to follow these stipulations:

• The outdoor seating combined with permitted indoor seating cannot exceed the original indoor seating capacity of the business prior to COVID-19.

• The limits of the seating area must be defined by ropes, temporary fencing or other means.

• Businesses must submit a seating arrangement plan to the township.

• If the establishment is a use controlled by the Liquor Control Commission, it must have a Limited Outdoor Service Approval Order.

• The seating area cannot block ingress/egress to the building and must meet the setback requirements if it involves permanent structures.

• Barrier free seating must be provided.

• Public access to bathrooms needs to be provided while outdoor seating is open.

Along with applying for the township permit, restaurants and bars must get permits from the state to offer outdoor service. Approval must also be granted by the township zoning administrator, the township building director and, in some cases, the Flint Township Fire Department.

Bars and restaurants will be allowed to set up seating in non-required parking spaces, so long as the seating area is defined by protective barriers. Canopies and umbrellas will also be allowed, provided they are maintained at a 10-foot clearance from the building.

More information on how to apply for outdoor building permits is available at flinttownship.org.