By Dawn Krebs
FORT PIERCE -- Back in 2008, the Fort Pierce City Commission briefly discussed allowing dogs in designated outside dining areas within city limits.
Now, with more restaurants opening in the downtown area, the subject has come up once again, and the commission is ready to revisit the issue.
At the Dec. 3 commission meeting, Peggy Arraiz, a code compliance manager, brought the subject before the commissioners for discussion.
"We are faced with some businesses who wish to have dog-friendly dining," she said.
Dog-friendly dining, currently already allowed in cities such as Palm Beach and Miami, would permit restaurant owners to allow dogs in designated outside dining areas.
There is currently a state statute that regulates dogs in outside dining areas. The commission was looking to create a local ordinance that mirrored the state regulations. However, discussion stopped when they discovered the state statute had a sunset date of June 2009.
Recently, the state renewed the statute, reopening the possibility for the city to adopt its own ordinance allowing for dog-friendly restaurants.
"It's definitely an idea I want to support," said Commissioner Thomas Perona. "It's something we need to get behind."
Commissioner Reginald Sessions, who first introduced the idea of adopting the dog-friendly dining ordinance in 2008, agreed.
"This ordinance will make certain businesses more marketable," he said. "We need to do all that we can to help them."
According to the state statute, the business would have to apply for a special permit that would show the specific outdoor area where the dogs would be allowed. In addition, the business would provide hand sanitizers on outside tables and follow strict regulations about the outside area.
The commissioners all agreed this was a subject that needed to be developed into an ordinance and brought back before them at a later date.
Currently, an ordinance is being reviewed by the city attorney's office and should be placed back before the commission in about a month.