Breckenridge to allow outdoor seating, displays through summer

Community members make their way in and out of shops on Breckenridge Main Street on Saturday, May 8, 2021. Breckenridge will allow retail stores to display merchandise outside on their property throughout the summer.
Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

The Breckenridge Town Council will allow local businesses to use temporary outdoor structures and seating this summer, creating a new set of rules to be enforced through Sept. 30.

Last year, the Town Council relaxed certain code restrictions on these structures due to the coronavirus pandemic in conjunction with Walkable Main. While the council decided against reinstating Walkable Main, businesses can still have certain outdoor displays throughout the summer.

All structures must be located on a business’s private property, including outdoor seating, tents, gas fire pits, merchandise displays and signage.

“A lot of businesses spent a lot of money last summer and through the winter to sort of make some changes to the way they operate because of the pandemic, and we want to make sure that they can utilize those as much as they can,” Mayor Eric Mamula said. “We’re going to give them this summer to go ahead and try to pay those things off as best as they can.”

Mamula also said these changes will give businesses the opportunity to have a little bit more business and serve those who still won’t want to eat inside restaurants.

The Breckenridge Restaurant Association sent a letter to the council sharing its preferences on potential code exemptions, encouraging the council to support the continuation of outdoor seating, tenting and additional signage for the summer.

“After such a terrible year, it would be helpful for restaurants to have the option to utilize private parking spaces as service areas again this summer,” the letter read. “… We think that outside dining will still be very popular this summer, so having additional room to provide this will be a positive guest service.”

For restaurants, the Town Council outlined four locations where outdoor seating is permitted. First preference is given to existing decks or patios, then non-required parking spaces, then open space areas like lawns and grass, and finally, required parking spaces. Businesses must place structures on the location of higher preference if it’s available.

The same location preferences are listed for temporary outdoor structures and fire pits, some of which require permits from the Breckenridge Community Development Department and the Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District.

Businesses wishing to keep, modify or add new outdoor structures may need to apply for a development permit with the planning division, as current permits will expire on May 31. New structures may also need a building permit, and those with new lighting or electrical uses may need an electrical permit, as well. All application fees for these permits are waived throughout the summer.

Retail businesses are permitted to display merchandise for sale on clothing racks, shelving or tables no larger than 12-by-3 feet on outdoor private property. Merchandise can only be displayed outside during the hours the business is open.

All businesses are also allowed to display temporary signage on private property, but signs are not allowed on public property such as sidewalks. In its letter to the council, the Breckenridge Restaurant Association said additional signage is helpful with facilitating to-go orders and patio seating.

“I really like this sort of modified solution of allowing people to try to get what they can in the good summer months,” council member Kelly Owens said in the May 11 work session. “I also think we have to acknowledge that there are going to be people who still don’t feel comfortable inside or are traveling with kids who can’t be vaccinated, and so I do think this allows a little more opportunity for (the outdoors), but also manageable for our staff.”


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