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Village eliminates 18-foot setback for outdoor cafes

April 03, 2013 - The Oxford Village Council made it possible for restaurants to finally have outdoor seating along downtown's busy main street.

Council last week voted 4-0 to eliminate zoning ordinance language that prohibited having outdoor seating areas less than 18 feet away "from the closest through travel lane on Washington St. (M-24)."

The problem is no property can meet this 18-foot setback rule, so anyone who wanted a cafe would have to obtain a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals, according to village Manager Joe Young.

Restaurants wishing to establish an outdoor seating area along Washington St. still have to meet the village's other requirement that a sidewalk with a minimum width of 5 feet be maintained along the curb.

Village Planner Christopher Khorey, of the Northville-based McKenna Associates, felt having two setback rules was "redundant," so he recommended eliminating the 18-foot one.

In addition to gaining village approval for an outdoor seating area, restaurants wishing to have one along M-24 must also get an okay from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

MDOT charges a permit fee of $90 the first year and $45 for each year after that.

Property owners must submit a copy of their insurance certificate and a sketch of the cafe, which includes tables, chairs and any railing or fencing to be erected around the seating area.

The state also dictates that no advertising is allowed on the cafe area or in it.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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