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Proposed city ordinance would regulate dogs at restaurants

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WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council will consider an ordinance that would let dogs accompany persons into outdoor areas of food and beverage establishments.

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The council will take comments from the public during a hearing at 7:02 p.m. Monday in the chambers at the Municipal Utilities Building, 700 Litchfield Ave. S.W.

A law passed by the 2008 Legislature allows cities to write such ordinances.

Willmar's proposed ordinance says any eating and drinking establishment, which has outdoor eating and drinking areas, may apply to the city clerk for a license to allow dogs in the outdoor area of the establishment.

Persons 18 years of age or older would be allowed to be accompanied by a dog while in the outdoor area of the licensed establishment.

Among other things, employees would be prohibited from touching, petting or otherwise handling dogs; dogs will not be allowed on chairs, tables or other furnishings; and dogs must wear current rabies vaccination tags.

Nothing in the ordinance would limit the right of a person with disabilities to have access to public accommodations while accompanied by a service animal as provided by law.

In other business, the council will take comments from the public during a hearing on proposed amendments to the landscaping ordinance. Landscaping is required for commercial, industrial and new or significantly expanded multi-family residential developments.

Among other things, the amendment will require landscaping such as grass, shrubs and trees on all exposed ground areas surrounding or within accessory use, including street boulevards, which are not devoted to drives, sidewalks, patios or other uses.

The amendment states no landscaped area shall be for parking vehicles or storing or displaying materials, supplies or merchandise.

Also Monday, the council will take comments from the public during the open forum, and will receive reports from the Finance Committee and the Public Works/Safety Committee.

The council will consider an airport management agreement, will consider renewal of on-sale and off-sale liquor licenses, and will receive the annual reports from Police Chief Jim Kulset and City Attorney Rich Ronning.

-- David Little

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