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 Matt VanEman, right, co-owner of HUB Sports Bistro, and bartender Jordan Fletcher are working on the rear area of the business. In Macomb Township as of July 8, a pair of restaurants — El Charro and HUB Sports Bistro — have been approved for a special event permit.

Matt VanEman, right, co-owner of HUB Sports Bistro, and bartender Jordan Fletcher are working on the rear area of the business. In Macomb Township as of July 8, a pair of restaurants — El Charro and HUB Sports Bistro — have been approved for a special event permit.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Permits granted for additional outdoor seating in Macomb Township

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published July 21, 2020

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Restaurants are open, but with certain restrictions in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

One restriction is having indoor dining available at half-capacity. For business owners, that means exploring more ways to expand outdoor seating.

In Macomb Township as of July 8, a pair of restaurants – El Charro and HUB Sports Bistro – have been approved for a special event permit.

The permit allows for expanded outdoor seating areas at eateries in the age of COVID-19.
    
Macomb Township Planning Director Josh Bocks said even though restaurants are back open, they’re still struggling financially to get back to where they need to be.

“To help combat that, we created a process in which they can get an expedited review and an opportunity to have outdoor seating, which could allow them to have more patrons,” he said. “The value for restaurants to have additional seating is they can have more patrons.”

Bocks said this permit differs from typical special event applications in that normally the application would be good for a week or so, and that a full site plan revision is required for outdoor seating.

Now the permit process is sped up with reviews being conducted within two days of submitting an application.

HUB Sports Bistro Manager Jeremy Stradley said prior to COVID-19, it only had a small front patio where patrons could be outside.

HUB opened in 2010 and is located at the southeast corner of 21 Mile and Garfield roads.

“We have maybe a half-acre of grass behind our building, so they allowed us to use that as a new patio area,” Stradley said. “It provides a comfortable place for employees and customers so they have the spacing they need.”   

The outdoor area was set to open the week of July 13.

Permits issued this summer are good through Nov. 1.

Once a business submits a site plan with what its outdoor seating will look like, the Macomb Township building, assessing, fire, engineering and planning departments will review it, offering their approval.

Once a business setup is complete, they can call the same day and get a building and fire inspector to come out and make sure plans are being followed.   

The outdoor area at HUB will include between 10 and 15 patio tables, umbrellas and fencing.

Bocks said over the last month, his department has received many calls from restaurant owners who need their outdoor seating area expanded.

In June, Bocks said businesses were eager to open outdoor seating, so the department was trying to fast-track the process.

“I was very heartened by the fact that a government agency was able to move quickly and cut red tape to help restaurants,” Macomb Township Planning Commission Vice Chair Aaron Tuckfield said. “It’s an unprecedented time to shut down economies and try to start them up again.”   

On June 10, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved to authorize the planner and supervisor to develop a strategy for creating outdoor seating opportunities for local restaurants.

“Businesses have a pretty good understanding of what executive orders from the governor are requiring them to do to be compliant,” Bocks said.  

A $500 payment is required at the time an application is submitted. When the permit expires and all goes well, the money will be refunded.

Special event permit applications can be accessed on the township’s Planning Department website at macomb-mi.gov/206/Planning-Zoning.

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