As part of the Community Development Department’s efforts to streamline and clarify ordinance requirements, The City of Novi recently updated their Zoning Ordinance regarding the provisions for outdoor seating. Section 4.84 of the Zoning Ordinance has been amended to provide businesses the opportunity for approval of their outdoor seating by the Building Official with the submission of an architectural drawing clearly demonstrating the outdoor seating area will meet the ordinance requirements, subject to certain standards. If all conditions of the ordinance and approved plan are met, approval for outdoor seating will be given from March 1st through November 30th. The following outlines the basic requirements for the Building Official’s approval of outdoor seating and the general approval process. For further information about approval for outside seating associated with restaurants, please contact the Community Development Department at 248-735-5678. A copy of Section 4.84 of the Zoning Ordinance has been posted in the yellow box above.

General Ordinance Requirements for Outdoor Seating

  • Outdoor Restaurant SeatingThe building/tenant space and the immediate surrounding area should be clearly shown on an architectural drawing.
  • All proposed outdoor furniture including, but not limited to, tables, chairs, and waste receptacles should be clearly shown on the drawing. A note should be included indicating the type of material the outdoor furniture is made of.
  • Outdoor seating areas shall be located in a manner that maintains a minimum pathway width of 6 feet (clear of structures) along the sidewalk.
  • Outdoor seating areas shall be enclosed in instances where there is waitstaff or alcohol served. For additional information on the types of enclosures allowed please see Section 4.84 of the Zoning Ordinance.
  • Special requirements exist for outdoor seating areas located within a public right-of-way. Right-of-way lines should be clearly shown. For additional information please see Section 4.84 of the Zoning Ordinance.
  • The hours of operation for outside dining areas should be consistent with the hours of operation of the inside restaurant. The applicant should include a note indicating the hours of operation for the outdoor seating area.
  • If a fence or gate is proposed, egress hardware should be clearly shown and gate/fence anchoring details should be provided.
  • Widths of egress should be clearly labeled.
  • If the seating area proposed contains more than 20 occupants or if hardscape or landscape improvements are proposed as part of the outdoor seating area, a signed and sealed site plan prepared in accordance with Section 6.1 shall be submitted for administrative review and approval by the Planning Division staff.

Review Process

Restaurants interested in establishing an outdoor seating area should submit three copies of an architectural drawing (signature and seal not required) including all of the items noted above to the attention of the Building Official in the Community Development Department along with the completed application, (available in the yellow box above or under the Forms section of the Community Development Department’s webpage) and a check for $70 (used for the initial special inspection).

Outdoor Seating

After the drawing has been approved, and the seating is installed, the applicant will need to request a special inspection to ensure that the seating and other amenities are installed according to the approved drawing. The special inspection requires the submittal of a $70.00 fee to allow for the inspection to determine compliance with the approved drawing.

Annual Renewal

Restaurants must request an annual inspection to renew their outdoor seating arrangement. Please call the Ordinance Department at 248-735-5678 to schedule an inspection after your outdoor seating has been set up for the season.