The first reading of an ordinance dealing with sidewalk displays and the placement of tables and chairs on sidewalks has been tabled again.
At its July 15 meeting, the Decorah City Council held the first reading of an ordinance amending city code regarding sidewalk displays. The Decorah Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended the Council consider allowing temporary and portable signs no larger than 2 by 4 feet and only adjacent to a building/property line, not out along the curb line and where the sidewalk is at least 10 feet wide. Portable signs in the downtown area are not currently addressed by city code, according to City Manager Chad Bird.
At last month's meeting, Bird advised the Council that the Commission did not discuss tables and chairs on city sidewalks, and he suggested the Council might want to address regulating them. Council member Gary Rustad, chair of the street committee, said tables and chairs should be included with the regulations of temporary signs. He postponed action on the first reading until the Council's Monday, Aug. 5, meeting.
At that meeting, Council member Jody Niess pointed out the ordinance doesn't include any consequences for noncompliance.
City Clerk Wanda Hemesath agreed.
"There's nothing here that specifically tells us what enforcement options are," Hemesath said.
Hemesath suggested the city attorney be consulted on the issue.
"You have to have consequences, otherwise what's to keep them from violating it again?" Niess asked.
Action on the first reading was postponed again, until the Council's Monday, Aug. 19, meeting.
If the Council adopts the ordinance, city officials plan to begin an "educational campaign," sending out letters to property owners to explain it.
Council member Carolyn Corbin has suggested the city work with Downtown Decorah Betterment Association and the Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce. She recalled the workshop tourism expert Roger Brooks conducted in Decorah a few years ago, when Brooks encouraged merchants to bring their "insides out" with outdoor displays and seating.