Owners protest proposed restaurant patio rent hike

Aug. 3, 2023  PLYMOUTH EAGLE.

Plymouth Michigan News


As a Commission, we can only meet and discuss things at public, open meetings (shout out to the Open Meetings Act–it’s an important law and we follow it to the letter!) The proposed policy was on the 7/17 agenda so we COULD discuss it, not necessarily vote on it, and that’s exactly what we did–as a group together, for the first time. Several restaurant owners spoke, as did a downtown resident who had a different perspective than the business owners, which was all super welcomed. We tabled the policy to get even more input from stakeholders, which is what is and continues to happen, and come back to discuss again on August 7 at our next open meeting. This is the way local government is meant to run, and the fact that nothing was voted on yet just means the process is playing out…”

Kelly O’Donnell – Plymouth City Commissioner


Restaurant owners and operators in downtown Plymouth have some serious reservations about a proposed plan to increase the fees their businesses pay to provide outdoor dining.

The owners are united in their sharp objections to a plan which would increase the fees the businesses pay by 900 percent and decrease the amount of space they are allowed to use. The setback proposed would increase from 6 feet to 9 feet, severely impacting the number of outdoor tables each of the businesses could provide.

Currently, the restaurants pay $1.50 for each square foot of sidewalk or city property they rent during the summer months. The proposal which came before the commission suggests the restaurants should pay $15 per square foot. If approved, the City of Plymouth rate would be the highest in the state. Currently, Northville restaurants are charged $1.50 per square foot, Ann Arbor restaurants pay $1 per square foot and Royal Oak charges the business- es a flat fee of $600, according to the restaurant owners.

Commission members discussed the increase during the July 17 meeting, the restaurant operators said, noting they were “blind sighted” by the issue.

They are asking the public for help in rejecting the plan by appearing at the Aug.7 meeting of the commission, when further discussion of the issue is expected to be on the agenda.

They noted that each of their businesses makes substantial investments to create the special atmosphere of downtown Plymouth.

Should the commission approve the plan, the owners said the increased expense could force them to collectively close their patios to outdoor dining. They explained that each of the restaurants is already operating at a very “slim margin” and this increase would be cost prohibitive for them to continue to offer the amenity.

In a prepared statement, the owners explained that the 3-foot decrease in the space they are allowed to use would also have a negative financial impact. In addition to reducing the number of tables the restaurants could serve, some have spent as much as $30,000 to adhere to the other regulations the city has imposed regarding fencing and space. While Plymouth currently requires a minimum 6-foot of pedestrian walkway, other com- munities require only 5 feet. The owners called the proposed fees  “outrageous” and suggested residents attend the meeting or email the commissioners at commission@plymouthmi.gov or attend the Aug. 7 meeting at Caster Park in the city.

Mayor Nick Moroz said no decision had been made at the July 17 meeting and that a framework for an outdoor dining policy had been under discussion for some time. He said currently there are two policies in place, one for the use and rental of on street parking spaces and another for sidewalk spaces.

He said he met with the restaurant owners and expected additional dialogue at the Aug. 7 meeting.



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