For now, Whiskeys on the Water must stay inside

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE –  Whiskeys on the Water’s hope for an outdoor cafe before the Street Art Fair have been delayed beyond the June 23 Planning Commission review of the current outdoor cafe ordinance.

Joshua Cade, owner of Whiskeys on the Water, 2903 Biddle, said at the June 6 City Council meeting he hoped to have an outdoor patio in place before the city’s Street Art Fair July 13 to 16, a well-attended annual event.

Councilwoman Sheri Sutherby-Fricke said even though his type of business is booming at that time of the year, the council doesn’t want to give him an outdoor cafe approval now, especially if the current ordinance may change in a few weeks.

“There is concern that if address A does it, then address B wants to do it and so on,” Fricke said. “We are waiting for the Planning Commission to bring us something we can look at.”

Cade said he was caught off guard by the abeyance because he was at the May 19 Planning Commission meeting where his request for a certificate of occupancy for an outdoor cafe was approved 7-1, and he attended the June 6 City Council meeting hoping for an approval, and not to be pushed back further.

City Attorney William Look said he is concerned with the grandfather provisions of special permissions granted before ordinance changes.
“Once you open the door and grant permissions, the applicant or owner can take the position that they are grandfathered in,” Look said, “and any subsequent changes don’t apply to them.”

Look said he would exercise caution because they are aware of so many problems with the ordinance as written.

“Revocation process and enforcement have to be addressed before we take on more outdoor cafes,” Look said.

Councilman Ted Miciura expressed concern with Cade wanting to eliminate three downtown parking spaces for the outdoor cafe.

“I consider that a completely ridiculous request because I would not be willing to get rid of any parking spaces,” Miciura said.

Cade said the three parking spaces in question on Oak Street are used only for his business, and there are not other businesses close to them.

“There are 350-plus parking spaces directly behind me and we added at least 80 when that parking lot was reconstructed,” Cade said. “I think this is something that could bring a ton of people to our downtown, and I don’t think three parking spaces should be a lot of concern.”

The City Council voted 4-2 to hold Cade’s request in abeyance until after June 23, the date the Planning Commission holds a public hearing on possible amendments to the current outdoor cafe ordinance.

Councilmen Don Schultz and Kevin VanBoxell voting against the resolution.

Following the Planning Commission public hearing, the commission, city engineer and attorney will make recommendations to the City Council on June 27 at the earliest, addressing issues it raised about outdoor cafes at its Nov. 9, 2015, meeting.

The City Council concerns included requests from existing cafes for extended hours and expansion; compatibility with adjacent land use, especially churches and residential buildings; decibel levels; enforcement; and revocation of existing provisions.

(Sue Suchyta can be reached at