By Becca Robbins

The Baker City Council approved a new sidewalk cafe ordinance after approving the first readings of a vacation request and a re-establishment of an enterprise zone Tuesday night.

The previous ordinance relating to sidewalk cafes was written in 1992 and this newer version, effective immediately after unanimous approval, is about updating the wording of the criteria, according to City Manager Fred Warner Jr.

Warner said “sidewalk cafes are extremely popular” and the ordinance states, “It appears that these add vitality and are economic generators for the surrounding businesses.”

Businesses are required to keep at least 5 feet of sidewalk space clear for pedestrians and must possess annual permits that expire at the end of the year. Warner said he hopes to compile a cheat sheet to help business owners be sure they’re in compliance with the ordinance.

The Council approved the first of three readings of another motion in the interest of economic development that would re-establish an enterprise zone that would offer property tax incentives and waivers of permit fees to encourage commerce to locate or expand into the zone. County enterprise zones date back to 1986.

Warner said he hosted a public hearing about this issue last week, which one person attended and no one dissented.

“It’s nice to have these tools to spur economic development,” he said. “This hasn’t been used a great deal, but when a company comes in, it’s a good tool.”

They approved another first reading of a motion to vacate a 100-foot by 375-foot undeveloped industrial lot on F Street in the interest of repairing and restoring a century old building. Councilors also approved the second reading Tuesday night and it will be read the final time at their next meeting on July 24.

The Council also approved a motion to remove language relating to sidewalk cafes from Ordinance 3030 to prevent confusion and overlap between the two ordinances.

Rally road closures

Warner also spoke of road closures this weekend for the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally. Roads closed Thursday through Sunday are:

• Main Street from Washington Avenue to Madison Street closed Thursday through Sunday.

• Broadway Street from First Street to Resort Street, closure starts today and continues through 2 p.m. Monday.

On Friday, Main Street will also be closed from Washington to Auburn for vendors. Bikes began rolling in Wednesday. The city is still trying to figure out how to keep the rally running next year because the current organizers are stepping down, Warner said.