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Bemidji City Council to hear public feedback on outdoor dining, street reconstruction

The Bemidji City Council will hold a public hearing alongside a second reading of an ordinance adjustment to allow restaurants to serve alcohol outdoors and use public right-of-way for patio space at tonight’s council meeting.

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BEMIDJI — The Bemidji City Council will hold a public hearing alongside a second reading of an ordinance adjustment to allow restaurants to serve alcohol outdoors and use public rights of way for patio space at Tuesday's council meeting.

In summer 2020, the council took action to allow restaurants to serve outdoors in response to rules set by Gov. Tim Walz, where indoor dining was limited to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic.

Outdoor dining extended throughout last year as the city continued allowing those operations. In response to the popularity of the recent rules, city staff drafted a series of amendments to make outdoor dining permanent .

Should the amendments be approved, businesses would be able to purchase permits to allow outdoor dining. Ordinance adjustments happen in three readings with the first reading taking place at the Jan. 3 council meeting . The third reading requires a full vote by the council to determine approval, before which the amendments can be altered based on council and public feedback.

The council will also hear public feedback regarding an approximately $1.7 million street reconstruction project to address about 0.8 miles of city streets.

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Using a combination of a street tax levy, utility funds and assessments, streets to be proposed for reconstruction include 10th Street NE, Dewey Avenue NE, Ridgeway Avenue NW and Spruce Street NW.

Dewey, 10th and Ridgeway would be completely reconstructed beginning in May with anticipated completion in September. This would include new pavement, updated sanitary sewer mains where needed, replaced sidewalks and light pole installation.

Spruce Street is not proposed to be assessed as a full reconstruct, and only a segment of storm sewer main would need to be upgraded with resulting pavement removal and replacement.

A neighborhood meeting for the project was held on Jan. 5 at the Public Works Building where overall feedback toward the project was positive, according to the council.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 18, at City Hall and can also be viewed online on the city's website.

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