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Published: Wednesday, 10/12/2011

Halting Perrysburg sidewalk permits debated

In the end, council decides not to act

BY GABRIELLE RUSSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Shoppers look for deals at the Perrysburg Farmers Market in June. Sidewalk permits allow the farmers market to take place. Shoppers look for deals at the Perrysburg Farmers Market in June. Sidewalk permits allow the farmers market to take place.
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PERRYSBURG -- After a two-week-long debate on whether a local restaurant should be allowed to expand outside or whether it was more important to keep the space for the farmers market, Perrysburg City Council considered imposing a moratorium on sidewalk permits last week.

However, the council decided against taking action because some city officials said a moratorium would overreach the council's power and could have unintended consequences on other Perrysburg events.

"Are we trying to get into the mayor's business?" Councilman John Kevern asked the board during the discussion at the Oct. 4 meeting.

Perrysburg Council President Joe Lawless proposed a moratorium on sidewalk permits, which is what allows the farmers market, sidewalk sales, and outdoor cafes to operate on the sidewalk. The moratorium was intended for permit requests seeking the same time slot as the farmers market on Thursdays or events lasting longer than five days.

His proposal came after Mayor Nelson Evans granted a one-year sidewalk permit to Zingo's Mediterranean, a move that some council members contested.

Mr. Evans can grant sidewalk permits without City Council approval. The council had also considered giving Zingo's a one-year sidewalk lease, which does require a council vote.

Councilman Tom Mackin argued the council did not have the authority to tell Mr. Evans to stop giving permits.

"It's an overreach by the legislative branch to tell administration what it can or cannot do with permits," said Mr. Mackin, who supported giving Zingo's use of the right of way.

But Councilman J. Todd Grayson argued the city needed a moratorium to take the time to create a better policy, in case other downtown businesses seek sidewalk permits to expand in the future.

"There isn't a clear standard," Mr. Grayson said.

Council President Joe Lawless, one of the most outspoken against giving Zingo's a permit or lease, said the council "should do something quickly" to protect the farmers market next year. The market officially ends for the 2011 season tomorrow.

But Mr. Lawless tabled his moratorium proposal after Mr. Evans said he would not grant more new sidewalk permits for the time being.



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