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Outdoor dining gets green light



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Spadoni
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Spadoni (click for larger version)
July 17, 2012 | 02:36 PM
In the competition for tourist dollars, Fontana just leveled the playing field with Lake Geneva.

With unanimous approval, the village board allowed for a trial run of outdoor dining and drinking licenses. Village Trustee George Spadoni called the change the biggest story since 1967 when he said the ordinance prohibiting outdoor service was enacted.

"We've been talking about this change for 15 years," he said. "We just needed a little push in the back to get us going."

The little push was the approval of outdoor dining in Lake Geneva earlier this year.

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"The local business committee raised it at the board after seeking input from local business," Spadoni said. "Those businesses were supportive of changing it, just to be competitive with other businesses."

In Fontana, some establishments already had special approval allowing them to serve outdoors. Four businesses were not allowed to serve outdoors, and according to Spadoni, they weren't competitive.

"The bottom line is the effected business owners, whom I have complete faith and trust that they will do the right thing," he said. "They have the most to gain and the most to lose through this trial period."

After Nov. 15, the board will review the effects of the ordinance change. Spadoni expects the change to help in the community stay competitive with others along the lake.

"We've had zero problems with the locations that previously had outdoor dining and drinking," he said. "If they run a good business plan in accordance with the ordinance, then there's a strong possibility that we'll run with it permanently."

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