Lakeland city commissioners were faced Monday with deciding restaurants’ permit fees for outdoor dining after changing the way sidewalk cafes and parklets are regulated. City staff recommended an annual fee of $4.50 per square foot to cover administrative costs. But the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority’s Julie Townsend pushed to keep the permit fees for sidewalk uses at the long-time rate of $100 per year; she argued that the proposed higher rate would penalize businesses that have invested thousands in outdoor dining that makes downtown more engaging. After long discussion, city commissioners decided to maintain the $100 fee for the time being. Learn more: The Ledger | City staff proposal | LDDA presentation

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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