City of Asheville reminds businesses about safety requirements to operate outdoors 

More businesses and organizations are operating outdoors this year, due to COVID-19. The City of Asheville reminds those with outdoor areas to do their part to operate safely. Beyond wearing a mask and other public health measures, businesses that choose to operate outdoors must follow all building and fire-safety codes while using equipment like heaters and canopies. Guidelines for winterizing outdoor operations are available here.


Business owners should be aware that authorization may be required to use outdoor space and winter accommodations such as heaters, tents and canopies. Follow the steps below to apply. Fees for winter authorization, temporary use permits and outdoor dining permits are waived through Dec. 31, 2020. 


Businesses should apply for winter accommodations authorization to: 

  • Apply for the first time for the AVL Shares Space program to temporarily expand use of a private parking lot, on-street parking spaces (temporary “parklet”) or public sidewalk.
  • Use any model of outdoor heater (including a “pre-approved” unit) in an AVL Shares Space-authorized space (temporary parklet, shared street, sidewalk or private lot expansion) or on any public sidewalk.


Businesses should apply for a Temporary Use Permit to:

  • Set up more than one canopy/tent that is larger than 400 square feet on private property.
  • Set up a canopy/tent on public property (i.e., shared street or parklet).
  • Add vinyl sides to any already-permitted canopy/tent or pre-existing patio space.
  • Set up any type of “igloo” structure.


City staff are available to answer questions and provide consultation by calling 828-259-5967 or emailing


Key safety reminders

  • Propane heaters may not be used beneath any canopy, tent or “igloo.”
  • Propane heaters must always be located 5 feet from buildings, combustible materials (including umbrellas) and exits/exit routes.
  • Propane canisters must be stored outdoors, 10 feet away from building exits and openings and may not be stored on public property. 
  • All “igloo”/dome structures must be rated for fire code compliance and receive a Temporary Use Permit before use; the model’s user/safety manual must be submitted with the permit application.
  • Open flames and table top heating appliances may not be used. 
  • All heating units in AVL Shares Space-authorized temporary spaces, including “pre-approved” units, must receive winter authorization so that placement can be approved. 
  • Elements incorporated into temporary parklets may not encroach into the required 18 inch buffer from traffic or the 6 foot pedestrian clear zone on sidewalks. 
  • AVL Shares Space-authorized businesses with outdoor expansion on private lots may only use up to 50% of the business’ designated parking spaces, not to include any ADA handicap parking areas.
  • Canopies/tents/”igloos” may not be set up on public sidewalks.
  • Property/business owners are responsible for removing leaves, snow, ice and debris out of areas authorized or permitted for outdoor use as well as any adjacent public sidewalk
  • Property/business owners are responsible for providing adequate trash receptacles for needs generated within areas authorized for outdoor use and for removing litter as-needed.