Kandiyohi County assisting businesses with new permit to allow operations in county right of way
The Kandiyohi County Board approved a new permit from the Public Works Department to allow businesses in the county to use county rights of way for conducting business during the COVID-19 pandemic. The county would receive the application from the city where the business is located, as the municipality is still the zoning authority.
WILLMAR — In an effort to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kandiyohi County Board approved a permit that it is hoped will help some businesses begin the reopening process.
The permit from the county would allow businesses to use county rights of way along county roads, such as parking spaces and sidewalks, for conducting business. An example would be O'Neil's in Spicer, which is located along County Road 10.
"This would allow continued business and allow them the latitude for outdoor seating within our right of way with restriction," said Mel Odens, Kandiyohi County Public Works director.
Gov. Tim Walz, in his updated executive order regarding pandemic-related business restrictions, allowed restaurants and bars to reopen June 1 with no more than 50 occupants, as long as all service was conducted outside. Many local cities have been allowing businesses to use the public rights of way to expand or add outdoor seating. As the authority for county roads, the county also needed to approve such a move.
"This makes good sense, to do what we can to assist businesses," said Commissioner Roger Imdieke.
Businesses need to first get permission from the city where they operate, as the municipality is the zoning authority. The city will then report to the county any businesses that will use the county rights of way and how they will use them.
The county has some restrictions connected to the permit. Only businesses that are licensed restaurants and bars may serve food or alcohol and a 5-foot-wide pedestrian walkway must be maintained at all times. Those establishments with liquor licenses will need permission from their licensing authority to serve alcohol in an expanded area of business.
No permanent structures can be constructed in the county right of way, and damage to county roads or sidewalks is not allowed. Every night the tables, chairs and other items must be secured.
"If you have tables, umbrellas and chairs that can blow around, we want that secured, so we don't have litter and damage to other things," Odens said.
Businesses using the right of way will also have to allow other permitted users, such as utilities, to still be able complete their work if needed.
"They have a permit, they have a right to be there," Odens said.
The county permit will expire on either Nov. 2 or at the expiration of the Executive Order 20-01, which declared the peacetime emergency in Minnesota.
Those establishments with private parking lots who do not need to use the county rights of way do not fall under the county permit.
"If you want to do something in your parking lot on your premises, that is your prerogative," Odens said.