City of Albany, NY
Albany County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Albany 1-24-1991. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction — See Ch. 133.
Penalties — See Ch. 258.
Streets and sidewalks — See Ch. 323.
Zoning — See Ch. 375.
The sidewalk and outdoor cafe regulations as set forth in this chapter are designed to permit those cafes in areas where they are appropriate and to promote and protect the public health, safety and general welfare. Specific purposes of this legislation are:
A. 
To ensure adequate space for pedestrians on the sidewalk adjacent to sidewalk and outdoor cafes.
B. 
To preserve and enhance the character of neighborhoods through the City and to protect the adjacent residential areas.
C. 
To simplify administrative and strengthen enforcement procedures for sidewalk and outdoor cafes that are effective, efficient and enforceable.
D. 
To promote the most desirable use of land and to provide compensation to the City for use of City-owned land for sidewalk cafe purposes.
This chapter shall be known as the "Sidewalk and Outdoor Cafe Ordinance."
For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms shall include each of the meanings set forth:
NONRESIDENTIAL DISTRICTS
Those areas of the City of Albany designated by Chapter 375 as MU-CU, MU-CH, MU-CI, MU-DT, MU-FC, MU-FW, I-1 and I-2.
[Amended 5-15-2017 by Ord. No. 26.31.17]
OUTDOOR CAFE
Those exterior facilities adjacent to and a part of establishments selling food and/or drink, entirely located on private property, open to the elements except for awnings and/or low walls or fences, temporary or permanent in nature, such as rooftop cafes and those at street level not using any City-owned property.
PERMIT
Written authorization issued by the Director of Planning pursuant to this chapter permitting the operation of either a sidewalk or outdoor cafe.
[Amended 5-15-2017 by Ord. No. 26.31.17]
RESIDENTIAL/MIXED-USE DISTRICTS
Those areas of the City of Albany designated by Chapter 375 as R-1L, R-1M, R-2, R-T, R-M, R-V, MU-NE, MU-NC, MU-FS and MU-FM.
[Amended 5-15-2017 by Ord. No. 26.31.17]
SIDEWALK CAFE
Those exterior facilities adjacent to and a part of establishments selling food and/or drink that require the use of some City-owned property for operation, are temporary in nature and open to the elements except for optional awnings and/or temporary low walls or fences.
[Amended 5-15-2017 by Ord. No. 26.31.17]
A. 
No sidewalk or outdoor cafe shall be allowed to operate in any outdoor area unless a permit has been obtained from the Director of Planning.
B. 
Any request for the use of such an area for such purpose shall be made in writing to the Director of Planning, in the form of a permit application.
[Amended 5-15-2017 by Ord. No. 26.31.17]
The Director of Planning shall establish rules and regulations necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
[Amended 5-15-2017 by Ord. No. 26.31.17]
A. 
Any request or application for a permit to operate a sidewalk or outdoor cafe shall be made to the Director of Planning or his or her designated agent, in writing, on the application form provided by the Director of Planning's office for this purpose. Where construction or alterations are anticipated, the applicant for an outdoor cafe must also submit a building permit application which will be reviewed for compliance with the State Building Code and City Zoning Requirements.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and Ch. 375, Unified Sustainable Development, of this Code, respectively.
[Amended 4-24-1997 by Ord. No. 13.32.97; 4-4-2011 by Ord. No. 21.22.11; 5-15-2017 by Ord. No. 26.31.17]
A. 
The Director of Planning shall issue a permit upon a finding that:
(1) 
The proposed sidewalk or outdoor cafe will not unreasonably interfere with the pedestrian traffic or use of the City-owned portion of property to be used.
(2) 
The applicant has met all other applicable provisions in this chapter and those in the Building Code, the Unified Sustainable Development Ordinance and, if located in an historic district, the Historic Resources Commission Ordinance.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 133, Building Construction; Ch. 375, Unified Sustainable Development, and Ch. 42, Departments and Commissions, Part 4, Historic Resources Commission.
B. 
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Director of Planning may deny a permit upon a finding that:
(1) 
The use of the sidewalk or outdoor cafe has resulted in violations of any applicable rule, regulation, ordinance, local law or statute during the 12 months preceding the application.
(2) 
The proposed sidewalk or outdoor cafe will have an undue adverse effect upon nearby property, the character of the neighborhood, traffic conditions, parking or other matters affecting the public health, safety, welfare or convenience.
C. 
The Director of Planning may hold an administrative hearing with the applicant for a permit and any other interested persons to assist in making such a determination. Such hearing shall be upon notice to Corporation Counsel; the Departments of Buildings and Regulatory Compliance, Engineering, Fire, Police, Traffic Engineering; the Alderperson representing the area in which the proposed cafe is to be located; and the neighborhood association, if any, whose contact person and boundary descriptions are on file with the Director of Planning.
A permit holder shall be bound by all applicable rules, regulations, ordinances, local laws and statutes. The permit may be conditioned on modifications or restrictions intended to ensure compliance with the provisions of § 303-7 and the general protection of the health, safety and welfare of the citizenry.
[Amended 6-17-1996 by Ord. No. 16.62.96; 5-19-2008 by Ord. No. 25.42.08; 4-4-2011 by Ord. No. 21.22.11]
The fee for processing the application for a sidewalk or outdoor cafe permit shall be:.
A. 
Application fee for sidewalk or outdoor cafe: $50.
B. 
Usage fee for sidewalk café:
Area
(square feet)
Fee
1 to 100
$50
101 to 200
$150
201 to 300
$200
301 to 400
$250
401 to 500
$300
501 to 600
$350
601 to 700
$400
701 to 800
$450
801 to 900
$500
901 to 1,000
$550
[Amended 5-15-2017 by Ord. No. 26.31.17]
The person or persons to whom a permit is issued shall be liable and shall indemnify the City for any loss, damage or injury sustained by any person whatever by reason of the negligence of the person or persons to whom the permit shall have been issued. The applicant for a permit shall present to the City a certificate of insurance, naming the City of Albany as additional insured, prior to the issuance of the permit, in the amounts specified by the Director of Planning. The Director of Planning may, in his or her discretion, waive the requirement for insurance when circumstances warrant.
[Amended 4-24-1997 by Ord. No. 13.32.97; 4-4-2011 by Ord. No. 21.22.11; 6-6-2011 by Ord. No. 28.41.11; 5-15-2017 by Ord. No. 26.31.17]
A. 
The Director of Planning, with the assistance of the Department of Buildings and Regulatory Compliance, the Albany Police Department and the Department of Planning and Development, shall be responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with the terms of this chapter and applicable rules and regulations. In so doing, the Director of Planning may hold an administrative hearing with the applicant for a permit and any other interested persons. Such hearing shall be upon notice to the Corporation Counsel; the Departments of Buildings and Regulatory Compliance, Engineering, Fire, Police, Traffic Engineering; the Alderperson representing the area in which the proposed cafe is to be located; and the neighborhood association, if any, whose contact person and boundary descriptions are on file with the Director of Planning.
B. 
The Department of Buildings and Regulatory Compliance or Albany Police Department, upon inspection and discovery of a violation of this chapter or other applicable rule, regulation, ordinance, local law or statute, may immediately cause the offending cafe to be cleared of patrons.
C. 
The Division of Building and Codes, Albany Police Department or the Department of Development and Planning shall, upon the discovery of a violation of this chapter or other applicable rule, regulation, ordinance, local law or statute, notify the Director of Planning of such violation.
D. 
Upon a finding of such violation of this chapter or other applicable rule, regulation, ordinance, local law or statute, or upon other good cause shown, the Director of Planning may revoke a permit or levy penalties pursuant to § 303-20 of this chapter.
[Amended 5-15-2017 by Ord. No. 26.31.17]
Appeals from the issuance, denial, revocation or other condition of a permit may be taken to the Board of Zoning Appeals, by any aggrieved person, within 30 days from the date of the issuance, denial or revocation, by filing a written notice with the Director of Planning on forms prescribed by the Board. Each appeal shall refer to the specific relevant provision of the ordinance, explain the aggrieved person's position with respect to the determination being appealed and state the relief requested. If the appeal is from a denial or revocation, it shall also state the reasons given for said denial or revocation.
[Amended 5-15-2017 by Ord. No. 26.31.17]
Upon receipt of an appeal of a permit denial, revocation or issuance, the City Clerk shall transmit the appeal and all pertinent data and records to the Board, including his or her recommendations. The Board shall establish a reasonable time for the hearing of each appeal and give proper notice thereof. The Board shall decide the appeal within 30 days of the hearing. At the hearing, any party may appear in person or be represented by an agent or attorney. The Board's decision shall be filed in writing with the Director of Planning and Corporation Counsel. A copy shall be sent to the appellant.
[Amended 5-15-2017 by Ord. No. 26.31.17]
Upon receipt of a permit application, the Director of Planning shall send a copy of the application to the Commissioner of Buildings, City Engineer, Director of Planning and Alderman of the ward in which the proposed sidewalk cafe would be located for their comments. Comments and recommendations shall be accepted for a period of 14 days from date of distribution. Notice of permit issuance, with any conditions or restrictions attached, will be similarly distributed. The permit holder shall post the permit on the establishment so that it is visible from the street.
Property shall be cleaned and kept refuse-free, and no large containers for trash shall be placed on the cafe premises. At the expiration of the term of the permit, all City-owned property shall be delivered up to the City in good condition, damage by the elements excepted. Public property shall not be altered in any way during the term of the permit.
A. 
Residential/mixed-use districts. Cafes located in residential/mixed-use districts shall be open for business not before 8:00 a.m. and shall close by 11:00 p.m.
B. 
Nonresidential districts. Cafes located in nonresidential zoning districts shall be open for business not before 8:00 a.m. and shall close by 2:00 a.m.[1]
[1]
Editor’s Note: Former Subsection C, added 7-8-2010 by Ord. No. 54.42.10, as amended, which immediately followed and provided different hours of operation for sidewalk cafes located within the boundaries of the Lark Street Area Business Improvement District, was repealed 5-15-2017 by Ord. No. 26.31.17.
A. 
Residential/mixed-use districts. Cafes located in residential/mixed-use districts shall not use music or noise amplification devices, and no music or entertainment of any type is permitted outdoors. Lighting shall be minimal. No outdoor cooking of any type is permitted in sidewalk or outdoor cafes.
B. 
Nonresidential districts. Cafes located in nonresidential zoning districts shall be allowed to provide music, so long as it is not of a type or volume as to violate any applicable law or ordinance such as the City's Noise Ordinance[1] or create a nuisance to surrounding residents or property owners. Lighting shall be minimal. No outdoor cooking of any type is permitted in sidewalk or outdoor cafes.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 255, Peace and Good Order, Art. V, Unnecessary and Unusual Noises.
In sidewalk cafes, all fixtures and furnishings must be of a temporary nature, capable of being brought in at closing time, and must be brought in and stored during nonoperational hours. No objects, except a retractable awning and lighting fixtures, may be permanently attached to the exterior. All planters, railings and fences must be temporary and not exceed a height of four feet. No additional signage shall be permitted to be affixed to a cafe's temporary structures or accessories. Outdoor cafes, those cafes operated entirely on private property, are excepted from the above requirements of this section; however, if either type of cafe is located in a historic district, additional requirements relative to signage and other exterior elements that are set forth in the Historic Resource Commission Ordinance are applicable.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 42, Departments and Commissions, Part 4, Historic Resources Commission.
[Amended 5-15-2017 by Ord. No. 26.31.17]
For sidewalk cafes using City property for operation, there shall be a minimum of four feet or fifty percent (50%) of the total sidewalk width for clearance, whichever is greater, to provide adequate and unobstructed pedestrian movement, such measurement being made from the outermost point of the cafe to the unobstructed inner edge of the curb, excluding brick or grass carpets, United States mailboxes, fire hydrants, bus shelters, street trees, etc. Where applicable, compliance with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design will be required. The actual amount of clearance space needed will be based upon two (2) factors: the location and the volume of pedestrian traffic. A larger pedestrian right-of-way may be required based on the proposed location and the volume of pedestrian traffic experienced there.
[Amended 4-24-1997 by Ord. No. 13.32.976-6-2011 by Ord. No. 28.41.11]
A person or entity found in violation of this chapter shall receive a letter stating the violation and pay a fine of $150 for a first offense; shall receive a letter stating the violation, pay a fine of $300 and have said permit suspended for 90 days for a second offense within three months of the first offense; and shall receive a letter stating the violation, pay a fine of $500 and have said permit revoked for the remainder of the permit season or suspended for 120 days, whichever is greater, upon any subsequent offense after the second offense. Any fines levied shall be in addition to any other provisions for enforcement contained in this Code.
Permits shall be issued on or after May 1 of each year. All permits, regardless of when issued, shall expire on April 30. Applications for renewal of permits shall be made in the same manner as original applications. Permits are not assignable.
If any section, paragraph, subdivision, clause or provision of this chapter shall be adjudged invalid, such adjudication shall apply only to the section, paragraph, subdivision, clause or provision so adjudged, and the remainder of this chapter shall be deemed valid and effective.