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Ypsilanti Businesses Get Approval to Use Sidewalks and Streets

CBS Detroit - With the shutting down of restaurants and other businesses from COVID-19, an idea is catching on nationwide to help jumpstart businesses in downtown districts amid social distancing guidelines. Cities and towns are opening up streets and sidewalks for their use. The idea being business can expand their space outside to allow more dine-in customers while still social distancing.

This idea is coming to Ann Arbor and now Ypsilanti. According to Mlive, the City Council approved a plan 6-1 that allows the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to close streets and allow businesses to expand sidewalk space this summer. The dissenting vote was Councilman Anthony Morgan. As part of the plan, the Ypsilanti DDA will pay the city $2,500 to make up for lost parking.

However, this plan came with concerns from the Ypsilanti City Council and business leaders. Mainly being that there will be an unfair advantage to businesses who have direct street and sidewalk access. Councilman Anthony Morgan who voted no on the measure thought the plan favors restaurants and puts retail shops, barbershops, and salons at a disadvantage.

Michigan Firehouse Museum
Credit: CBS Detroit | Charles Forbes - The Michigan Firehouse Museum is located on Cross Street just across the river from Ypsilanti's Depot Town.

Other council members, like Jennifer Symanns, had the same concerns but thought the plan was doable as long as the city "proceeds mindfully".

The city is opening up spaces in downtown Ypsilanti along the north part of Washington, and part of its south Washington, West Cross Street in the WestCross District, and along East Cross Street in Depot Town. Businesses in those areas can apply for an outdoor cafe´ permit. To close a street, at least two businesses must apply. They also will also be able to reserve parking spaces for curbside pickup.

Joe Meyers, who is the director of economic and community development for Ypsilanti said most businesses have been affected by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home orders, being shutdown. Telling MLive that in a survey they would reopen after the stay-at-home order was lifted.

In Ann Arbor, similar plans have already been made as they consider closing Main, Washington, Liberty, Maynard, State, Detroit, Church, and South University Avenue on June 12.

Hopefully with the increased seating capacity for social distancing, and making these downtown districts more walkable, people will feel more comfortable in downtown spaces amidst Coronavirus concerns.

© 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Information from MLive contributed to this report.

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