COLUMBIA — Private construction projects creating balconies that would encroach upon public right-of-way, including sidewalks, will now need a separate building permit from the City Council.
The City Council on Monday night unanimously approved the measure, which was triggered by questions about whether Quinton’s Bar and Deli should be allowed to build a rooftop balcony overhanging the sidewalk on Ninth Street.
Last month the city issued Quinton’s a stop-work order on the portion of the bar’s two-story rooftop expansion project that would overhang the sidewalk.
Quinton’s owner Mike McClung said he was ambivalent toward the council’s decision.
“I’m not really upset by what they’re doing but with how they’re doing it,” McClung said. “They’ve created an ordinance that solves the problem on a case-by-case basis.”
City Manager Bill Watkins said it’s an issue the city has never seen before.
“I think we have a duty to protect pedestrians walking down the street from something coming off a balcony,” he said.
McClung was the lone business owner to speak against the measure; he cautioned council members against making a “decision in haste” based on the first instance of a potential problem.
Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser also expressed hesitation.
“We’re once again asking the council to sit here and make subjective judgments on what we will and will not allow,” Nauser said.
McClung is free to carry on with his construction project, so long as he provides for pedestrian safety, said John Sudduth, the city's building regulation supervisor.
"He has to provide a barrier and a covered walkway" for pedestrians in the right-of-way, Sudduth said.
The council approved the measure with a one-year sunset clause, making it likely the issue will be revisited in the future.