By Bill Parry
Several Long Island City restaurants may soon be able to open sidewalk cafes.
The Department of City Planning is looking to amend the zoning rules to allow for the establishment of sidewalk cafes on Vernon Blvd, Jackson Ave, Court Square, 43rd Ave and Crescent St. The aim is to change the rule by summer– and finally put an end to the ban.
Though some sidewalk cafes already exist on these streets — with proper city licenses — they are technically illegal under current zoning rules.
Even with the zoning change, restaurants would still have to apply for permits with the Department of Consumer Affairs. The sidewalk would need to be at least 15 feet wide before a restaurant would be permitted to open an outdoor cafe.
Queens Plaza North and Queens Plaza South are not part of the plan. Penny Lee, a representative of the NYC Department of Planning, said at a recent meeting: “There’s just too much heavy pedestrian traffic at those locations.”
Dana Frankel, a representative of the LIC Partnership, was excited about the news.
“I think it’s great to bring activity and vitality to the streets,” she said. “There’s so much room on the sidewalks that pedestrians shouldn’t be inconvenienced. It will bring life to the streets and only help businesses. Hopefully it’s approved as soon as possible.”