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City of Newport allows outdoor dining for bars, restaurants in residential neighborhoods

The City of Newport is taking a significant step forward to support its local bars and restaurants in residential areas by amending the city’s outdoor dining ordinance.

Newport City Manager, Tom Fromme, announced the culmination of a two-year effort to revise the ordinance, aimed at addressing concerns raised by businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The previous ordinance had placed restrictions on outdoor dining for bars and restaurants in residential neighborhoods, potentially putting them at a competitive disadvantage. Recognizing the changing needs of these establishments and the desire to utilize outdoor dining spaces more extensively, the Newport City Commission unanimously approved the new ordinance at a special meeting held recently.

Outdoor dining to be expanded in Newport under new ordinance. (File photo)

Key revisions were introduced in response to feedback from concerned residents.

One significant change is the requirement for new businesses in residential neighborhoods to conduct a public opinion survey of adjoining property owners within a 75-foot radius as part of the application process for outdoor seating permits. Additionally, all bars and restaurants applying for such permits will be subject to an annual review.

“By far the biggest advantage of this ordinance is to enable entrepreneurs in the service industry to craft an experience outside of busy commercial streets commonly found throughout our region, yet not be disruptive to those living in adjacent properties via a curfew,” said Newport City Commissioner Mike Radwanski.”

The new permit also introduces regulations on outdoor operating hours, allowing operation until 9 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

However, these hours can be extended, with midnight being the latest closing time, based on the public survey results of residents within the 75-foot radius.

“I really believe that together, we’ve overcome a lot of concerns, eliminated potential inequities, and really developed high standards and accountability that are going to help this be a success going forward,” said City Commissioner Julie Smith-Morrow.

The amendments to the outdoor dining ordinance in Newport reflect a community-driven effort to support local businesses while ensuring the well-being of residents.

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