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A seat on Main Street: Waynesville approves sidewalk encroachments

A long-standing informal agreement between the Town of Waynesville and Main Street merchants has now been formalized, clarified and expanded to allow for limited encroachments onto public sidewalks. 

“I think it’s very inviting,” said Downtown Waynesville Association Executive Director Buffy Phillips. “It’s that third place — home, work and then social. I only wish we could use it 12 months a year.”

The request was made at the behest of new restaurant Sauced, which hopes to place seating for diners and drinkers on an especially wide portion of town sidewalk in front of the business. 

Laws prohibiting the consumption of alcohol on sidewalks and streets would have made that a losing proposition, as would have the town’s casual two-foot buffer it used to allow merchants to use for the display of signs and merchandise. 

Phillips said she’d spoken with the DWA board and heard strong support for the proposal; the ordinance also saw strong support from the Waynesville Board of Alderman, and no public comment against it over the course of two meetings dating back to June 12. 

Waynesville Aldermen passed the ordinance unanimously June 26. As written, the ordinance allows for businesses in Waynesville’s Town Commercial or Mixed Use zoning districts that have sidewalk widths of more than more than 10 feet to apply for an encroachment of up to 3 feet.

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Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis, but must maintain a passage for pedestrians of at least 7 feet as measured 1-foot from the curb face. 

With the public works director’s OK, the town manager may at his discretion issue the permit, which would be valid for one year. The town could set a nominal fee for the permits to cover the staff time involved with processing the applications, but thus far has not. 

Outdoor sales of any kind would be prohibited. 

Applicants must carry appropriate liability insurance that recognizes the existence of the encroachment, and must also contain the encroachment area behind moveable fencing, planters or other similar barriers. 

As sidewalk survey conducted prior to the town’s adoption of the ordinance says the average sidewalk width in Waynesville is 17 feet where bulb-outs exist, and 11 feet elsewhere. Specifically, businesses like The Strand could also likely take advantage of the ordinance, as could a number of others. 

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