ISLAMORADA -- The Village Council last week unanimously approved the preliminary reading of an ordinance that would legalize and regulate dogs in outdoor dining areas.
The ordinance passed with no debate.
"This allows us to continue a practice that is going on," former Councilman Dave Boerner, who first pushed the council to consider the ordinance, said at the Nov. 8 meeting.
The so-called "Dogs Friend-ly Restaurant Ordinance" would require restaurants that wish to allow dogs in outdoor areas to apply annually for a permit. A yet-to-be-determined permit fee would be assessed.
The ordinance would also set sanitary rules for restaurants that acquire such a permit. Among them, restaurants would have to put hand sanitizers at every table in dog-friendly areas and employees would be prohibited from petting or touching dogs while serving food.
Though it is not unusual to see dogs at local restaurants, the practice is actually illegal under state law. But the state does allow cities that pass their own regulatory ordinance to be exempted from the prohibition on dogs in outdoor portions of restaurants.
The council still must pass the ordinance on second reading.
Also last week, the council approved by a 4-1 margin a $31,000 contract with longtime vendor Government Services Group to update wastewater, stormwater and garbage assessment rolls in the coming year.
Councilman Dave Purdo cast the lone dissenting vote, citing the village's pattern of not putting contracts out for competitive bidding.
"We'll never, ever, ever know if it will be cheaper or better until we take it out to bid," he said.
The contract is the tenth no-bid award the Village Council has approved since March, when the state auditor cautioned the village that no-bid extensions can cost taxpayers.
In other action last week, the council approved allocations for 35 affordable residences, including the 32 units at the Wet Net Villas project at mile marker 81.5.
The meeting was the last for 8 ¬½-year Councilman Michael Reckwerdt and six-year Councilman Don Achenberg.