By Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's Phase One Executive Order 61, Prince William County has Temporary Activity Permit (TAP) for Outdoor Seating and Heating Guidelines in place to help restaurants, cafés, dining and craft beverage establishments provide outdoor services to citizens and visitors.
HOW TO APPLY
Find the Temporary Activity Permit (TAP) for Outdoor Seating online application here, the guidelines and sample template here and online County Mapper sketch tool here.
Temporary outdoor seating must meet the requirements of Executive Order 61 and Executive Order 62 which include:
- Occupancy may not exceed fifty (50) percent of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy, if applicable;
- No more than ten (10) patrons may be seated as a party; and
- Tables must be positioned six (6) feet apart. (see sample template here).
A Virginia Health Department (VDH) and Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Authority Permit is required for the sale of alcohol. For requirements please see Topic 16 ABC Response to Temporary Approval of Outside Dining Areas.
If a tent is to be used please see the Temporary Tents – Submission and Inspection Guidelines.
TABLE AND SEATING LAYOUT SKETCH REQUIREMENTS
Please reference the sample template here and online County Mapper sketch tool here.
Draw the seating layout showing:
- Dimension of seating area length and width;
- Number of tables and chairs per table;
- Spacing of tables, with a minimum of 6 feet between tables;
- Any temporary barriers (orange mesh, rope, stanchions, jersey barrier, etc.) around seating;
- Number of occupants, which must be fifty (50) percent or less of code permitted occupancy;
- Width of aisles and aisle access ways;
- Aisle width minimum 48 inches for seating both sides, 36 inches for seating one side; and
- Aisle accessway width minimum 12 inches between rows of tables and chairs.
- Number of exits;
- Occupant load less than fifty (50), one exit is required; and
- Occupant load greater than fifty (50) and less than five hundred (500), two exits are required.
- Exit width, with a minimum 3 feet; and
- Distance to an exit.
The County maintains an excellent publication on the use and erection of a tents. Items covered include if permitting is needed, the application process, types of permits, fees, etc. Any tent over 900 sq. ft. or having over fifty occupants inside must secure a permit from the Building Development Division. Any tent over 900 sq. ft. requires a formal inspection by the Fire Marshal's Office and Building Development Division staff.
Please note that the County expects all tents used for commercial purposes to meet the fire code requirements. This includes, but not limited to, grounding of the tent and the number of people in the tent must conform to the County fire code. The Fire Marshal's staff spot checks tents of any size to ensure the safety of patrons and all code requirements are met. Further resources can be found here and here.
As the evenings cool down and you want to continue entertaining customers, we want to remind you about tents and the installation of heating devices.
General Background – Outdoor Heaters
Appropriate use type: any outdoor café or restaurant heater must be for commercial use and marked "UL Listed" or "UL Classified". Use of residential heaters is forbidden.
- Five feet or greater clearance for LP-Gas heaters from combustibles, people, and animals.
- Three feet clearance for electrical heaters.
Length of use: you must follow the manufacturer's recommended safety guidelines.
Safety guidelines: all tents must adhere to the County Fire Code requirements.
LP-Gas Propane Heaters
Placement of LP-Gas heaters: as noted earlier, an LP-Gas heater must be greater of five feet to buildings, combustibles, exits or discharges or the manufacturer's instructions.
Prohibited Use: inside or below tents, canopies, membrane structures; inside any space where connected to a fuel gas container; exterior balconies; stored or used on rooftops.
Permitting: if a gas line is installed from a propane/gas heater to a tent, the piping will require a permit. The form can be accessed here.
Portable electric heaters do not require a permit in Prince William County. However, please be aware of the following guidelines from the Fire Marshal's Office:
- Any electrical portable heater must be approved for Commercial Use (UL).
- Any individual using a portable heater in a commercial environment must adhere to the manufacturer's guidance.
- Every portable heater must be connected directly into an approved receptacle. No commercial heater will be plugged into an extension cord.
- As noted earlier, all portable heaters must be three feet or more from combustible materials.
HOW TO MAKE A PAYMENT
During the May 19, 2020 meeting, the Board of County Supervisors directed staff to schedule a public hearing on June 16, 2020 to establish a new simplified and expedited process for issuing a Temporary Activity Permit (TAP) for Outdoor Seating. The Board also directed a reduction in the TAP fee, to further provide aide to the County's hospitality industry.
WHERE TO SEND THE APPLICATION & SKETCH
Application submissions are accepted by email to TAP@pwcgov.org, by physical drop-off in the outside Drop-Off Container or by mail to ATTN: Land Development, 5 County Complex Court, Prince William, VA 22192.
WHO CAN APPLY?
Restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms, provided such businesses comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors, and sector-specific guidance for restaurant and beverage services incorporated by reference in Executive Orders 61 and 62.
WHEN CAN I APPLY?
HOW SOON WILL I RECEIVE AN APPROVAL?
Upon the County receiving the TAP application, the owner will receive a Conditional Approval Letter. (NOTE: Businesses that wish to erect tents, use parking lot spaces will not receive an immediate Conditional Approval Letter. See below for more information.)
WHAT DO I USE AS PROOF OF COUNTY APPROVAL?
The Conditional Approval Letter may be used by the applicant to secure a revised ABC license that allows alcohol to be served in the outdoor seating area.
WHEN CAN I SET UP THE OUTDOOR SEATING AREA?
When a Conditional Approval Letter is issued by the County and the licensee has complied with the ABC specified requirements.
WHEN WILL FINAL APPROVAL BE RECEIVED?
Final formal permit approval will be granted within 5–7 business days of the initial application submission date.
WHAT IF I DECIDE TO ADD MORE TABLES AND CHAIRS?
Please contact the County to have the TAP amended, at TAP@pwcgov.org.
WHEN DOES THE TAP ASSOCIATED WITH OUTDOOR SEATING EXPIRE?
The permit will expire when the Governor lifts the Order restricting restaurant capacity.
WHAT IF I DECIDE TO CONVERT THE TEMPORARY SEATING AREA INTO A PERMANENT SEATING AREA?
The owner should contact the County to discuss the specific requirements, which may vary depending on parking requirements, Building Code requirements, etc.
HOW DO I APPLY TO HAVE OUTDOOR SEATING IN THE PARKING LOT OR OTHER SPACE?
If a business wishes to pursue placing tables and chairs in a parking lot, add fencing around the seating area and/or tents to protect patrons from the elements may also use the expedited TAP application process, but will not receive a Conditional Approval Letter, as this requires a review of the available site parking requirements and additional safety measures for the public, before a final formal approval will be issued. This approval process typically takes 5-7 days.
DO I NEED TO APPLY FOR THE TAP IF I HAVE AN EXISTING OUTDOOR SEATING AREA?
Establishments with existing permitted outdoor seating areas do not need to apply for a TAP unless the business is planning to expand its footprint.
For TAP information and assistance please contact George Harben at 703-792-6830 or via TAP@pwcgov.org.
For permitting a Propane Gas Heater please contact Donna Rubino firstname.lastname@example.org or Jean Patterson email@example.com
If you have any questions about inspections, siting of a heater, gas permit, or other issues, please have the following data ready, when you contact the Fire Marshal's Office at 703-792-6360 Lieutenant Barry Culbertson firstname.lastname@example.org or
Battalion Chief Tom Jarman email@example.com.