As the Town of Leesburg and the rest of the world looks to life after COVID-19, members of the Town Council will soon need to decide whether their temporary zoning allowances should stick around.
The council this week voted to initiate amendments to the town’s Zoning Ordinance regarding temporary uses. Last May, the council waived some zoning restrictions to allow food and beverage establishments to offer outdoor seating at a time when social distancing regulations and capacity limitations limited indoor operations. Some of these outdoor seating options were permitted in parking spaces. The council also allowed more widespread use of tents and shade structures.
Zoning Administrator Michael Watkins said many of these special allowances put in place when the council enacted its continuity of government ordinance last spring are set to expire when the ordinance does next month. Town Manager Kaj Dentler said the council may even choose to rescind the ordinance and its state of local emergency at month’s end, a topic expected to be broached at the council’s June 22 meeting.
Watkins said the council may want to use the opportunity to review its temporary uses in total, including permits for special events for businesses or nonprofits, and even carnivals and fairs. One consideration the council may need to make regarding temporary outdoor dining uses would be the overall impact on the town’s parking supply, he said.
The vote to initiate the amendments passed Tuesday by a 6-0-1 vote, with Councilman Zach Cummings absent. The matter will go before both the Planning Commission and Town Council for review, with public hearings at both levels.