Find My Ward and Polling Location More Info
Municipal Election Information More Info
Economic Development

Outdoor Dining and Signage

City of Clinton Sidewalk & Outdoor Dining and Outdoor Display Guidelines.


1.1     PURPOSE

In response to COVID-19 and the economic hardships that it has inflicted on restaurants and retailers, the purpose of these guidelines is to provide guidance for Restaurant owners and Retailers who wish to offer temporary sidewalk shopping or outdoor dining or seating on public sidewalks or in shopping center parking lots. Sidewalk dining and/or seating (Section 1.2) is defined as dining or seating allowed on public sidewalks and alleys, while outdoor dining (Section

1.3) is defined as dining or seating allowed on private land including on setbacks from the street, side yards, alleys, parking lots, and rear yards. Also included in this section are rules for store owners who wish to display merchandise on the street (see Section 1.4).


Outdoor Seating Store owners must be mindful that they are using the public right of way, and must ensure that:

•  Pedestrian traffic flow and safety are not impeded and ADA (Americans with Disabilities) standards are met;

•  In Olde Towne, the historic architectural context is honored and enhanced; and

•  Outdoor areas are clean, litter free, and maintained to the highest standards at all times.


The space allowed for outdoor seating and/or  sidewalk  dining  will vary with the width of the sidewalk.  There are two sets of requirements: for sidewalks 10' or narrower, and for sidewalks wider than 10'. See typical  plans on the next page for graphic representations of these requirements.

A 5'-wide zone from the back of the curb or from any fixtures (trees, lights, bike racks, etc.) must remain clear from obstruction  at  all  times. If tree pits are not covered with tree grates, the measurement for pedestrian traffic flow starts from the inside edge of the tree curb closest to the buildings. Although a minimum 5’-wide corridor must remain clear for pedestrian traffic flow, the space  available  for  outdoor dining or seating may move in and out around street fixtures. The remaining public right of way, plus whatever setbacks that the building offers, may be used for sidewalk dining.

In most cases, streets this narrow will only accommodate a  single table and two, or perhaps three chairs within this space. The photo at left shows an example of sidewalk tables on narrow sidewalks.


Proposals may be considered to allow for outdoor dining in public parking spots. Please see Community Development to discuss options.

For sidewalks 1O' or narrower

is photograph shows how the dining enclosure m011es around a light pole in order to maintain a minimum 5' clearance on the sidewalk.

For sidewalks 1O' or narrower

c . B A R R I E R S

Fencing or other enclosures for sidewalk dining areas is important both to provide control for the store owner, and also to alert pedestrians and those with sight impairments that an obstruction exists on the sidewalk.

Dimensions and placement requirements:



Enclosures must be a minimum of 36” high

•  Leading edge barriers are required (perpendicular to the sidewalk)

•   Front edge barriers are optional unless alcohol is served at the establishment; then they are required

•  Generally, only one entry to an enclosure is recommended, especially where alcohol will be served

•  Openings for access to all doorways must be a minimum of 40” wide, and must remain clear from the opening to the doorway. If there is an additional door in the facade allowing access to upper floors, that door can only be included in the enclosure by exception.

Allowable materials and dimensions for enclosures are as follows:

•  Enclosures should be at least 50% open (except canvas or fabric, see below) to allow visibility to and from the street, and between 36-48” tall



Metal railings (wrought iron, aluminum or steel) on bases of circular or rectangular flat metal. No fencing may be permanently attached to the concrete portion of the sidewalk.


•  Painted or stained wood on bases of flat circular or rectangular metal

•    Rectangular, square or round  planters made  from  architectural concrete, commercial grade resin, terra-cotta, or treated wood must be no more than 2’6” tall without planting. Planters must have plants in  them or be removed from the sidewalk.

•  Round or square planters or urns used as barriers and connected by ropes with review and approval may be up to 3’ high



Canvas or other fabric securely fastened appropriately to metal  frames are allowed, with the understanding that the canvas or fabric must be designed not to blow over in windy conditions and be  maintained in good condition at all times.


•  Other attachments and materials will be considered by exception with review.

•    Canvas or other fabric securely fastened appropriately to metal  frames are allowed, with the understanding that the canvas or fabric must be designed not to blow over in windy conditions and be  maintained in good condition at all times.

•  Other attachments and materials will be considered by exception with review.

Not permitted are:

•  Plastic used as a material for any portion of any enclosure;

•  Domed or raised metal bases over 6” in diameter (these are a tripping hazard) or concrete or wood bases, except planters;

•  Rope enclosures less than 1” in diameter;

•  Planters with narrow bases which can be easily tipped or that would  be difficult to detect by the visually impaired.



d . F U R N I T U R E


Furniture for outdoor dining should be built for outdoor use and should be sufficiently sturdy to withstand reasonable variations  of weather and wind. Stacking-type chairs are recommended for storage. Both chairs and tables should be compact to allow the greatest flexibility in seating options (square or round tables of  no more than 30” are often used).


*Exceptions may be made for temporary seating.

Furniture allowed for sidewalk dining:

•   Chairs of metal (aluminum, steel, or wrought iron), wood, natural materials (e.g. wicker or rattan over metal for weight), or metal frames with natural, wood or plastic parts (e.g. resin  woven wicker). Although chairs do not need to all be the same, when seen together they must appear unified in style. Colors should be natural or dark colors. White or fluorescent colors are not allowed.



Tables of natural materials (wicker, rattan), metal (aluminum, steel, architectural concrete or wrought iron), with metal, stone, wood, architectural concrete or resin tops. Plastic woven (resin) wicker over metal of sufficient weight is also allowed. Tables should be natural or dark colors. Although more than one size and shape of tables may be used, all elements should form a harmonious collection.


•   Market-type umbrellas made of outdoor fabric with metal stands. Umbrellas should be compact in size.  Plain  colors  rather than stripes are preferred. Umbrellas colors and shapes should harmonize with or provide an accent to the colors of the facade and any trim or awnings.

•  Outdoor lighting may be desirable. Since many configurations are possible, all must be approved. Lighting affixed to the building or overhead lighting is preferred.



Open flames (e.g. candles) are not allowed.


•  New materials are often introduced to the trade. These will be considered by exception with review.

Furniture/fittings not allowed for sidewalk dining:

•  Any furniture or accessories other than chairs and tables and   a hostess stand (e.g. no warming tables, bus tables, etc.);

•  All-plastic molded chairs or tables;

•  White or fluorescent colors (except as accents);

•  Picnic tables of any material or size;

•    Commercial Logos (e.g. beer logos) or other writing on umbrellas.









a . L O C A T I O N , M A T E R I A L S , & F E N C I N G

•    Railings, decks, outdoor lighting, ramps, and safety items must conform to all City and State building,

safety, accessibility and zoning requirements.

•    Outdoor dining areas can be located on decks, sideyards, rooftops, frontages of buildings that are set back

from the public right of way, parking lots (with permission  from property owner).

•   Clearance from public rights of way to all doorways must be a minimum of 40”.

•     Outdoor dining areas located in sideyards or  rear  yards may be fenced for security and screened for privacy.

Fencing similar to that specified in the sidewalk dining guidelines may be used.

•     Outdoor dining located in the frontages of buildings  set back from the sidewalk must have perimeter fencing that  meet the requirements for sidewalk dining.

•     Outdoor dining located on decks or rooftops must have railings required by code as to height (42”), but may

utilize materials that allow views through (e.g. horizontal or vertical steel cables or Plexiglas panels).

•     Access may be through the building, from the street,  or both.



b . F U R N I T U R E

•       For private dining areas located in setbacks from the front of  buildings next to the public right of way, the standards  for furniture and umbrellas are the same as for sidewalk dining.

•    For furniture in side and rear yards and on decks and rooftops, the requirements are more flexible, with  picnic  tables, umbrellas with  logos, service  areas, hostess stations and bars allowed as reviewed and approved by Community Development.

•    Garden structures, sculpture, fountains, fireplaces and other outdoor  elements may be appropriate in outdoor  dining areas.





Businesses may wish to use the public sidewalk for display, for signs alerting pedestrians to sales inside, for menus or events, for landscaping or perhaps to provide a bench to invite pedestrians to linger a while. The following guidelines are given to suggest appropriate use of outdoor space.

The goal of these guidelines is to avoid a cluttered appearance on the sidewalks.




a . S P A C E  R E Q U I R E M E N T S  F O R  S I D E W A L K S

•   3’ from the face of the building (right of way line) will be allowed for display, temporary signage, landscaping, or benches.

•   Display items and temporary signage (sandwich boards) placed on the sidewalk are allowed, but must be removed at the close of business each day.

•      Items such as benches and plants in planters are  allowed but must meet quality standards for the city, and must be maintained (e.g. if plants in  planters have  died, the planter must be replanted or removed).





Common sense must be  used when displaying goods in the public right of way. This space must be neat and clean at all times. Temporary displays should be tasteful and understated. Examples might be a piece of sculpture or artwork to publicize an art show or a display of  plants in  the spring outside a flower shop or hardware store.