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City of Falls Church Economic Development Office News

Posted on: October 27, 2020

Permits for Businesses During COVID-19

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Outdoor Areas and Seating

Existing Seating from before the Pandemic
If your restaurant or business is using pre-COVID outdoor space for dining or other uses -- that is, space you were using before the pandemic -- no additional permits are needed. Please review the Governor’s mandatory requirements to find more details.

Use of Sidewalks or Parking Lots for Additional Outdoor Uses
To use a sidewalk or parking lot for additional outdoor seating or other business, the business must create and submit an Outdoor Area Plan. It must include:

  1. A hand-made or computer-generated document, drawn to scale, showing:
    • Seating area / business use area and capacity
    • Tent location (if applicable)
  2. Property owner’s written permission with signature

Email the Outdoor Area Plan to permits@fallschurchva.gov. All plans will be evaluated based on code regulations for safety and ADA requirements, and it is possible that not every permit will be granted. You must have a permit before proceeding with your plan. (Note: the City’s Emergency Declaration allows the City Manager to suspend parking and other zoning requirements for the purpose of facilitating outdoor dining).

Tents, Including Lighting and Heaters

The follow items should be submitted to apply for a tent permit:

  1. A completed Temporary Tent Application form; see Tent Permit Requirements here.
  2. A letter from the property owner, granting permission for the tent.
  3. A layout of the property, showing the location where the tent(s) will be placed.
  4. A layout of the internals of each tent. The layout should include:
    1. All furniture, such as tables, chairs, sideboards, etc.
    2. Location and type of any heating or lighting equipment. (See also these outdoor heater safety tips.)
    3. Location of fire extinguishers. Please note two 2-A rated extinguishers are required in each tent.
  5. The fire-retardant certification for the tent.
  6. If the tent is to be heated, an additional permit will be required. Electrical heating requires an Electrical permit. Propane or similar types require a Fuel-Gas permit. This permit application must be submitted along with the tent-permit application. Provide an information sheet on the heating equipment. (See also these outdoor heater safety tips.)
  7. If the tent uses lighting drawing in 15 amps or more, an electrical permit is also required for the lighting.
  8. If the tent will occupy any part of the street, sidewalk, or other public right of way, then an application for Right-of-Way permit must be submitted.

Please note the following:

  • Permit fees will be waived for tents set up in response to the COVID epidemic.
  • In addition to the specific requirements above, the Fire Marshal’s requirements still apply. These are included with the Temporary Tent Permit application.
  • For tents requiring multiple permits, no permits will be issued until all of them have been approved.
  • Hand drawings are acceptable for all submissions, but should be drawn to scale.
  • If a business wishes to install temporary lighting and/or heaters without a tent, no permits are necessary.

Questions
Feel free to contact the City’s Permits team at permits@fallschurchva.gov.

Outdoor Temporary Lights and Heaters without a Tent

Businesses that want to use outdoor lights or heaters on a temporary basis and do not plan to use them on or in a tent may do so without permits. (See also these outdoor heater safety tips.)

Questions
Feel free to contact the City’s Permits team at permits@fallschurchva.gov.

Rent City Parks for Business Use

The City's Recreation and Parks Department has a new permit that allows City businesses and non-profits to rent portions of City parks for commercial purposes.

  • Download the Permit Application Here
  • Certain parks and amenities can be rented for commercial activities like exercise classes and children’s entertainment.
  • The permit program is scheduled to end on March 1, 2021, but could be continued.
  • The permit does not apply to outdoor dining or service of food or alcohol and is not intended as a replacement of the City’s Special Event application.
  • For $20 per hour, a City business or non-profit can rent one of eight areas in City parks: Roberts Park Field, Roberts Park Picnic Shelter, Cavalier Tail Basketball Court, Cherry Hill Park Basketball Court, Madison Park Basketball Court, Designated grass area Cherry Hill Farmhouse/Park, West End Park Open Space, and Mr. Brown’s Park.
  • Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. While there is not a specified limit for use, the Recreation and Parks Department will balance community use of facilities with permitted use.

Questions
Feel free to contact the City’s Recreation and Parks Department at recreation@fallschurchva.gov.

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