Outdoor seating could soon become a permanent fixture at Mohio Pizza Co., located in downtown Delaware. Owner Monroe Nelson went before the Delaware Historic Preservation Commission for the second time on Wednesday to seek a certificate of appropriateness (COA) to construct a permanent patio behind the restaurant.
Nelson was approved for a temporary patio permit at the rear of the building last year to mitigate the loss of seating within the restaurant as a result of social distancing protocol. However, with its western exposure to the sun and its proximity to things such as dumpsters and grease pits, the patio didn’t represent an ideal dining experience for customers.
Proposed for the permanent structure is a 6-foot fence surrounding the patio to shield customers from the unsightly scenery, which includes dumpsters and grease pits, as well cable shields above the patio that will be suspended over a support grid. The shades will drape over the western end of the patio to prevent the sun from beating down on customers, an issue that became apparent for customers last season.
Horizontal wood slats would be affixed to the interior of the fence to provide additional screening, and they would be spaced to allow airflow and to possibly support small planter boxes on the exterior.
“As we had discussed last month at the informal review, this design appears to fit the evolution of the downtown nicely, creating and resulting in a pleasurable dining experience,” development planner Dianne Guenther said during the review of the proposal.
Chairman Joe Coleman expressed concerns about the wood slats, which he said are not a part of the HPC’s standards for the historic district, as well as the height of the fence.
“To me, this kind of a first of this type of project going into the back or rear of our downtown businesses, and I think we want to be careful about setting a precedent that anything goes,” Coleman said. “I think, overall, the design can work, but I just have some concern that both the height of the fence and the introduction of an additional element to what the standard states — a wrought iron-type fence — I think we’re kind of straying away from that.”
Commissioner Sherry Riviera said that with the wooden slats being on the interior of the fence, they could be a “nice accent on the inside, but also afford planters being on the exterior.” Riviera went on to say she felt the proposal “is a nice design.”
Trellises, rather than the wood slats, were proposed by Commissioner Cara Hering to make the fence “more traditional.” By doing so, Hering said the trellises would be a “decorative landscape as opposed to being integrated into the railing,” which could be “more of an argument against the guidelines.”
Commissioner Mark Reed went on record as saying he likes the design proposed, adding, “I think he’s trying to mitigate what he’s trying to mitigate without creating something too far from the standard.”
Despite Nelson not being present during the meeting, the commission approved the certificate of appropriateness with conditions stating the fence would be in line with the HPC standards — wrought iron and 36 inches in height. Any deviation from the standard would require the approval of the commission at a future meeting.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.