Longwood acts quickly and creatively in favor of business, joining bigger cities of Tampa and Orlando in expanded use of space during COVID-19

From the City of Longwood 

The City of Longwood issued a temporary use permit (TUP 05-20) on May 5 that was effective immediately, which is a temporary city-wide allowance for restaurants affected by the COVID-19 crisis to immediately provide outdoor seating in parking and open space areas. This is part of the City’s effort to help support our business community and our residents as they are faced with new and unprecedented challenges.

No permit required

A permit is not required for a restaurant to expand its outdoor seating. Restaurants can begin immediately, following the guidelines on this page. Tents above 200 SF do require a permit, however the City has waived the fees and some submittal requirements. More information on that is below.

There are limitations on how much space a restaurant can use

Temporary outdoor seating areas placed within existing parking areas shall not occupy more than 25% of the required spaces for the restaurant. Where a parking area is shared by multiple restaurants, the restaurants may need to coordinate with the property owner and other restaurants to allocate the spaces.

Open space areas that are not used for stormwater management can be utilized, so long as the total occupancy, including all temporary outdoor seating areas and the restricted indoor occupancy, shall not exceed the total occupancy originally approved for the restaurant.

Restaurants need to follow these requirements when expanding space

TUP 05-20 contains a few requirements on the location and set-up of outdoor seating areas.

  1. All tables shall be placed in a manner where all parties are separated by a minimum of six feet and no parties larger than ten people are allowed.
  2. Tables and chairs shall not be located in such a manner as to prevent pedestrian travel on sidewalks or impair ADA access, including clear paths to access ramps.
  3. Temporary outdoor seating areas shall be set back a minimum of ten feet from the right-of-way line of public streets and five feet from adjacent properties of different ownership.
  4. Temporary outdoor seating shall be clearly delineated to pedestrian and vehicular traffic by rope, tape, or other clearly visible markers.
  5. Business owners shall take reasonable measures to protect temporary outdoor seating areas from any encroachment by vehicular traffic; drive aisles may be temporarily closed to vehicular traffic so long as sufficient drive aisles remain to provide safe and functional traffic flow within the parking area and twenty feet of unobstructed paved access for emergency vehicle access is maintained.
  6. Temporary outdoor seating areas shall not occupy ADA required parking spaces or drive aisles (unless the drive aisle is closed).

Tents are allowed to be set up

Tents under 200 square feet do not require a permit and can be placed immediately. Tents over 200 square feet do require a building permit, however, the City has waived the fees and some submittal requirements for those permits. For tents larger than 200 SF, contact Building Official Phil Kersey at pkersey@longwoodfl.org or (407) 260-3461.

Daily maintaining of outdoor seating areas a must

Temporary tents, chairs, and tables shall be removed from parking areas and properly stored when the business closes each day, unless such items have received a permit from the Longwood Building Division. Additionally, all temporary structures including tents, canopies, seating, etc. authorized under this section must be removed by the business within 24 hours of a state of emergency declaration regarding a hurricane or severe weather event.

All trash and other service items utilized for temporary outdoor seating shall be properly disposed of or stored when the business closes each day.

How long is this approval good for?

The approval under TUP 05-20 expires 7 days after the expiration of the Governor’s State of Emergency declaration concerning COVID-19 that restricts the operations or occupancy of restaurants, unless extended or rescinded sooner by the City Manager or City Commission.

What’s the fine print?

There isn’t much – but there had to be some, right?

This is an effort to help local businesses by reducing regulatory impediments, given the unique and challenges facing our restaurants. There are certain standards included in TUP 05-20 that are in the interest of the safety of the general public that the City will enforce, if needed. If an outdoor seating area is found to create a safety issue, staff will make a request of the business to address that issue.

By the act of placing outdoor seating under this authorization, business owners consent to and agree to abide by the conditions in TUP 05-20. If you would like to request a copy of TUP 05-20 to see the full text, please do so by e-mailing the Community Development Department.

It is the restaurant’s responsibility to secure any permission as may be needed from the property owner, property owners association, leasing agent or any other third parties, as applicable, that may need to consent to the restaurant’s use of outdoor areas for seating.

Nothing in the permit waives any Federal, State, or local requirements (except those specifically discussed), including any requirements relating to the preparation of food and the sale or service of alcoholic beverages. In addition, nothing in this permit shall relieve any property owner of liability, obligations or restrictions under any lease agreement.

The Community Development Department has prepared this guide to help restaurant owners in expanding their outdoor seating. If you have a question about a requirement, or have a site that doesn’t quite work with what’s provided below, please don’t hesitate to contact the City’s Economic Development Manager Tom Krueger by e-mail or phone at (407) 260-3430.

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