Fairfield Ledger

Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 26, 2016

Irritated by treatment of Revelations

By Jacqueline Signori | Sep 01, 2016

To the editor:

I am puzzled and chagrined at the city’s treatment of Revelations.

They were the first to offer a classy outdoor dining area in the downtown area – nice fence, nice tables and chairs, and nice atmosphere.

Now it is ruined by the city’s picky and unnecessary rules.

Yet, the mess at Café Paradiso is still there. The two chairs sit outside at the Broadway consignment store where Walker’s used to be, George’s has some seating. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate Paradiso’s coffee and music, I think the stuff in the consignment store is interesting and George’s feeds a lot of people who enjoy eating there. However, the outdoor seating at these places is motley and frankly, unclassy.

We really don’t need more hindrance to business in Fairfield. We need the classy, friendly, clean, outdoor seating at Revelations back.


– Jacqueline Signori, Fairfield

Comments (3)
Posted by: Michael Halley | Sep 01, 2016 14:31

Had the owners of Revelations wished to keep their fence they could have simply moved it six inches closer to their building (they had eight inches of space to work with). Instead they chose to remove not only the fence, but the tables and chairs as well. Nothing in the city's outdoor dining ordinance prohibited Revelations from keeping their outdoor dining space - they chose to take it down on their own accord.

Posted by: yvonne kurtz | Sep 07, 2016 16:23

I spoke with Betsy Howland, owner of Revelations, where I am a customer, and she said that moving the fence was no problem.  She could have done that easily.  There were several other issues.  Among them alcohol is not allowed before 5 pm, patrons must be seated at tables and no dogs are allowed.  Betsy told me that she just is not able to police that.  The day she found out about the ordinance she went outside and saw a man standing and rocking a baby.  That was a violation of the ordinance.

Evidently the BBQ place on Court Street had to have their perfectly lovely picnic tables removed as well due to city ordinance.  What?  Is this city going crazy?  There are too many ordinances that are ridiculous.

I asked Betsy if she had had input when they were writing the ordinances.  She said that she knew about it, but she thought the ordinances would be reasonable.  She said she works 50 hours or more a week and just couldn't make it.  It's too bad the city didn't reach out to these business owners while they were writing the ordinances.  From what I am hearing from the business owners these ordinances just don't make sense. Can someone with some sense step in here and work with these businesses so we can have our lovely outdoor seating back?


--Yvonne Kurtz, Fairfield

Posted by: Michael Halley | Sep 08, 2016 10:58

Yvonne, there's no need to insult people to make your point. The wording of the ordinance was based on what's worked in five other cities in Iowa. Details like patrons needing to be seated to be served and no pets are added in case they become issues, but don't need to be "policed" by restaurant owners. My fellow council members added the portion about serving alcohol after 5:00 in order to keep the downtown family-friendly during the day. While I didn't agree with that point it was included because no local restaurant owners spoke out against it.

The issue with the BBQ restaurant has revealed an error in the current wording of the ordinance. Railing was only supposed to be required for restaurants who serve alcohol, in order for them to be in compliance with state laws. Restaurants that don't serve alcohol were supposed to be exempt from the required railing, but that language did not get included in the ordinance as it was adopted. I intend to introduce an amendment fixing the mistake, and to also list benches as suitable seating.

All of the council members and volunteers who worked on the outdoor dining ordinance have day jobs, and the process was as slow and transparent as possible. Any restaurant owner who pays attention to the news was well aware that the city was developing an outdoor dining ordinance. Those who chose not to be involved with the process have less room to complain when they don't like the results. All city committee and council meetings are open to the public and well advertised. Our government is designed to be a participatory democracy, meaning representation works best when people show up to express their views. Waiting until the process is complete to complain about the results is unfair to those of us who work hard on our community's behalf.

Michael Halley, Fairfield city council

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