BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Editor
In special meetings held virtually last week, both the Clarkston Planning Commission and Clarkston City Council approved the temporary usage of E. Church Street from Main Street to the alley entrance for additional seating by Honcho.
“As businesses struggle to reopen during the COVID-19 crisis, the city has made an effort to reach out to them asking how we can help, even suggesting the possibility of temporarily closing E. Church Street or Mill Street, as done in other communities,” said Clarkston City Manager Jonathan Smith. “The owners of Honcho subsequently replied with a proposal to close E. Church from Aug. 1 to Oct. 31 to allow expanded seating, thereby facilitating social distancing.”
The decision was originally slated to be part of the July 27 city council meeting but was moved up to a special meeting the night of July 23. The approval was unanimous.
“For clarity, this is not an exclusive act to be taking on city council because of a singular business,” Clarkston Mayor Eric Haven said. “This opens the door widely for other businesses to do the same thing.”
In addition to the planning commission, the proposal has been reviewed and approved by both the Oakland County Sheriff and the Independence Township Fire departments.
“It is fully expected that other requests for assistance from local businesses will be forthcoming and the city stands ready and willing to help,” Smith said.
The long-debated topic of parking was brought up as well, and Rich Little, chair of the planning commission, said that there are two handicap parking spots in the back of Honcho “and we didn’t want to lose those.”
Councilwoman Sue Wylie said she is in favor of the resolution because it makes sense on many levels.
“I think the driving force for all this is for safety for people to be able to eat outside,” Wylie said. “Most people feel safer eating outside than they do inside. We want to see all the employees of not only Honcho but of all the restaurants, back to work and earning a living.”