Mario Martinez, owner of Mario Bros. Mexican Cuisine, presented the Common Council of the City of Brazil drawings and plans for a fenced-in outside dining area in a special meeting Monday afternoon.
"I would like to see this happen," Martinez said. "I want to do something nice for Brazil."
Martinez initially began constructing the fence last week, but was instructed to stop in order for the project to be reviewed.
"The fence looks great so far," Mayor Ann Bradshaw said. "However, our concern is that it needs to be done the proper way and make sure it follows the codes and ordinances."
Council Member Pat Heffner said she had received complaints about the fence taking up too much of the sidewalk's width. The council recently passed the first reading of a new sign ordinance that states that only 25 percent of the width may be used.
"We don't actually have an ordinance that is specifically for outside dining areas and fences," City Attorney Bob Pell said. "We have ordinances that could apply to this situation, like the ones for sidewalk improvements and obstructions.
According to Martinez, the fence takes up half of the 12-foot wide sidewalk.
"If I could only use 25 percent, it would only be 3 feet and I wouldn't be able to have tables out there," he said. "In order to be able to serve alcohol, I need to have a fence in place."
Council Member Brad Deal expressed concern about having certain stipulations for one group and making exceptions for others.
"It doesn't matter if it is a sign or a fence," he said. "I don't think it is right to tell one person they can only use 25 percent of the sidewalk for a certain part of the day and tell some one else they can block 50 percent of it permanently."
Martinez did have a city-issued permit for the construction of the fence, which is bolted to the ground, but the council has to approve such work before it begins.
"One of our other concerns is that the rest of the sidewalk is not in great shape," Council President Bill Lovett said. "We need to at least make sure that the sidewalk in the area is safe enough for people and wheelchairs to pass through."
Martinez said he has been in contact with contractors about patching up the sidewalk, but has yet to receive a response.
Ultimately, the council approved the project by a 3-1 vote with Deal voting against it and Council Member Sam Glover not in attendance.
The approval comes with the stipulation that a 6-foot clearance be maintained at all times, even when construction on the United States 40 project begins, of which Martinez did not present any objections.
"Even if the permit was given incorrectly, we have to maintain at least 6 feet of the sidewalk available to people walking or in wheelchairs, and we have that right now," Council Member Steve Lamb said.
"Depending on the construction on the US 40 project, the fence may have to come down during that time."
Martinez said his main objective is to help improve the look of the city.
This is my way of helping make the city look better," he said. "Brazil has the potential to be a really nice town."