Temporary Expansion of Outdoor Seating for Restaurants

To continue to support economic recovery efforts for restaurants during the temporary occupancy limitations currently in place as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, East Lansing City Council approved Policy Resolution 2020-10 (PDF) in November 2020. The policy resolution extends the streamlined approval process and temporary elimination of fees for businesses that wish to temporarily expand their seating capacity into adjacent outdoor areas, including public and private property, until March 14, 2021. Elements of Policy Resolution 2014-5 (PDF) have also been modified. Adjoining property for expansion can include any private plaza, parking lot or other outdoor area and/or public sidewalk/right-of-way.

In addition to previous temporary outdoor seating area expansion requirements, Policy Resolution 2020-10 includes snow removal requirements and compliance with Fire Code for outdoor heating elements. If alcohol is to be served in an outdoor seating area, the restaurant must follow all Michigan Liquor Control Commission licensing and regulations. Once approved, the temporary expansion of restaurant seating will be permitted through March 14, 2021. 

For additional information, please view this document:

Temporary Site Plan Modifications Approval Process


The City of East Lansing has further streamlined the application process for the temporary expansion of restaurant service to outdoor areas. In addition to the approved policy resolution indicated above, the City has also modified its application process by combining two applications that were previously required for an expansion request into one application. There is no need to re-apply if you have already submitted an application. However, to extend your 2020 outdoor dining season to March 14, 2021, you must submit the 2020 Snow Removal Plan for Outdoor Seating Areas by December 31, 2020. If this is your first time applying for temporary outdoor seating, you must complete both applications (provided below).

  • Temporary Outdoor Seating Winter Application (PDF)
    To apply for a temporary expansion of outdoor seating, please complete and submit this application along with all required supporting documentation.  Please note that all fees have been eliminated for the 2020-2021 season.  Depending on certain attributes of your application, different types of supporting documentation are required when applying. Learn more (see page 2).

  • 2020 Snow Removal Plan for Outdoor Seating Area Application (PDF)
    The Snow Removal Plan collects basic information on who will remove the snow, where the snow will be stored and acknowledgement that  read and understand the snow removal requirements established in Ordinance 1326. You must submit the 2020 Snow Removal Plan for Outdoor Seating Areas by December 31, 2020
All applications must be submitted to:
Department of Planning, Building & Development 
City of East Lansing, Room 217
410 Abbot Road
East Lansing, MI 48823 

Phone: (517) 319-6930 
Fax: (517) 337-1607 
E-mail: dhaywood@cityofeastlansing.com 

Important note for restaurants serving alcohol in temporary outdoor seating areas: If alcohol will be served in the new temporary outdoor seating area, the restaurant must be in compliance with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission’s (MLCC) licensing and regulations, including the requirement for local approvals. Written approval from the City of East Lansing is required before an application to MLCC can be considered for the use of public property. Please reference MLCC’s Re-Opening Frequently Asked Questions document for more information on complying with MLCC licensing and regulatory requirements.