St. Paul's Heritage Preservation Commission on Thursday rejected the request of two Lowertown building owners to permanently widen their sidewalk for more outdoor dining across from Mears Park.

The commission's decision to deny the application for the sidewalk expansion sets the stage for an interesting debate when the City Council makes a final decision next month. The building owners, Dave Brooks and Jim Crockarell, have pledged to foot assessments for the expansion, which could range up to $300,000, and they have the backing of Mayor Chris Coleman.

The commission voted 7-1 to reject a proposal to expand the 10-foot sidewalk to 18 feet, and also a proposed alternative to widen it to 14 feet. Commissioners were reluctant to tamper with part of the historic district's street grid.

The sidewalk, on the north side of E. 6th Street between Sibley and Wacouta streets, runs outside the popular Bulldog, Barrio and Bin establishments.