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HomeNewsHuntsville simplifying sidewalk policy for businesses

Huntsville simplifying sidewalk policy for businesses

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Huntsville is making it easier for downtown businesses to use the town’s newly-expanded sidewalks.

In most cases, businesses in the Downtown BIA will now only need to provide the town with proof of insurance to use the sidewalk in front of their buildings. For patios, business owners can get permission directly from the town’s Director of Development Services, rather than having to go to council.

The proof of insurance requires the town to be listed as an additional insured, with a policy of $2-million if no alcohol is served, and $5-million if it is.

Karin Terziano, Mayor of Huntsville, says they want to cut down on red tape and help businesses bounce back.

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“To make sure that the businesses downtown can get outside and get operating, and not have [Main Street] Streetscape to contend with, and not have COVID hopefully to contend with, that’s what’s really important this summer,” says Terziano. “If we can do that without throwing up any unnecessary obstacles, I think that is the point we are trying to make. Just let business return to normal as easily as possible.”

Town staff had recommended to council at its April 25 meeting that businesses would need a number of approvals and to pay a fee to use sidewalks, largely citing liability reasons. After much debate, council shot down those recommendations, instead moving unanimously to amend the policy with the above changes.

Also removed was the need for staff approval on retail displays and art installations, which in some cases would have required retailers to list their displayed wares.

Bob Stone, town councillor and liaison to the BIA, says he knows from his own experience that would not be practical.

“I was a retailer on Main Street for 20 years, owning Christmas Tyme. If staff had asked me back then what I was going to put out and what merchandisers I was going to use, I could not give them that information,” says Stone. “Things evolve with a business, and it changed day to day.”

Stone, who moved the motion, adds that he’s happy with the decision that was made, and doesn’t expect any issues to come up when it is reviewed at the end of the year alongside the BIA.

“All of council agreed that if it’s about insurance, then simply ask for the insurance,” says Stone. “There’s no need for all the paperwork, and a charged fee, in order to do something that’s been going on for the past 100 years by putting their wares out on the street.”

At the meeting, council separately approved a request from Lake of Bays Brewhouse for a 28 to 32-person patio in front of the restaurant this summer.

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