Regulations for Temporary Outdoor Seating in Response to COVID-19 Indoor Seating Social Distancing Restrictions

Intent of Temporary Outdoor Seating Policy (TOSP)

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts it has had on the restaurant industry, specifically businesses that heavily depend upon on-premise dining, the City of Grove City developed a policy to help recapture revenue-generating square footage lost due to social distancing requirements. The goal is to establish parameters the City can review to authorize the temporary placement and use of outdoor facilities to create safe, temporary outdoor seating areas during state-mandated indoor seating restrictions due to COVID-19

General Requirements

  • Outdoor seating areas shall only be permitted for restaurants or businesses where the preparation and serving of food and/or beverages is primarily conducted on-site.
  • Outdoor seating areas must comply with all applicable Health Department regulations and Ohio liquor laws.
  • Outdoor seating areas shall only be open during the restaurant’s normal hours of operation.
  • Outdoor seating areas shall be located on the same tax parcel as the primary business operation.
    • Businesses requesting to utilize a portion of the public right-of-way for outdoor seating must complete a Right-of-Way Encroachment Agreement, obtained through the Building Division, for Outdoor Seating.

Seating Area Placement Requirements

Any outdoor seating area;

  • shall be configured to maintain safe and sufficient ingress/egress and shall not impair pedestrian and vehicular circulation around the building and site.
  • must allow for the safe maneuverability of emergency services around the site.
  • shall not exceed more than 25-percent of the parking area for single-site businesses, or 10-percent for those businesses located in multi-tenant developments. Multi-tenant developments are permitted to have multiple tenants with temporary outdoor seating areas; however, the total area occupied by temporary outdoor seating cannot exceed 25-percent of the parking area.
  • must not inhibit the use of another property or tenant space (if within a multi-tenant commercial building).
  • must be separated from vehicular areas either through landscape planters, fencing, bollards, curbing or other acceptable method(s).
  • must be within a clearly defined area.
    • Fencing, roping, or other mechanisms must be used to designate the area. Barrier height shall be no less than 36” and no more than 42”.
    • Landscape planters, trash receptacles and other larger objects are encouraged around the perimeter to create further visual separation.

Seating Area Arrangement Requirements

  • Tables must be spaced to comply with social distancing guidelines.
  • Trash receptacles must be available within the outdoor seating area.
  • Fixtures associated with the seating area are encouraged to match the character of fixtures utilized throughout the development.
  • Umbrellas must be free of signage, logos or advertisements
  • No signage (temporary or permanent) aside from signage required to comply with state-mandated COVID-19 regulations, or other safety regulations shall be used within or attached to any barriers, furniture or fixtures associated with the outdoor seating area.
  • Space heaters or other portable heaters may be used, provided they meet all necessary building, fire and safety codes.
  • Areas must be maintained on a regular basis and free of trash and debris.

Review Process/Inspection/Compliance

  • Under the direction of the Grove City Safety Director, the Building Division is charged with the administration of the review and inspection process.
  • Applications for a COVID-19 TOSP must include a narrative describing the nature of the request and a site plan showing the location of the seating area, and the improvements and fixtures associated with the seating area. Additional information may be required as noted on the application to ensure the seating area requirements area are met.
  • All requests will be processed within ten (10) business days from receipt of a completed application.
  • Prior to occupying/utilizing any temporary outdoor seating area the Building Division will conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with the submitted permit application.
  • Once in operation, if a temporary outdoor seating area is found to be noncompliant with any regulation, the property owner will be notified, and operations may be ceased until all deficiencies are resolved.
  • The City shall have the right to revoke, suspend, or terminate any Permit when, in the Safety Director’s determination, any of the following occur:
    • Applicant breaches any of the rules and regulations.
    • Applicant ceases to utilize the Permit.
    • Circumstances change and the Permit is no longer in the best interest of the community’s public health, safety and welfare.

Please find the Temporary Outdoor Seating Permit Application here, or at Building and Zoning Forms.

NOTE: Additional permits may be required from the Grove City Building Division and Jackson Township Fire Department depending on the proposed improvements associated with the seating area.

Effective Period and Continuation of Outdoor Seating Areas

  • An approved Temporary Outdoor Seating Permit is valid for 180 days or until state-mandated indoor dining restrictions are lifted, whichever comes first.
  • After COVID-19 interior seating restrictions from the State of Ohio are lifted, a business wishing to maintain its established temporary outdoor seating area in compliance with the TOSP regulations must do so with an approved Grove City Special Use Permit. Additional standards and criteria may need to be met to qualify for a Grove City Special Use Permit. All other temporary outdoor seating areas will be required to cease operation.

If you have questions regarding the policy or the application process, contact the Grove City Building and Zoning Division at (614) 277-3075 or by email.