OLD BRIDGE – In efforts to help restaurants get back on their feet when dining areas are allowed to reopen, township officials have created a temporary permit process for outdoor seating through Labor Day to help speed up the process.
“We know one plan won’t fit every establishment,” Mayor Owen Henry said. [The temporary permit process] will give us the ability to work with each dining establishment and come up with a plan to get them to open.”
Township officials and the Township Council discussed the measure at a meeting on May 4. The council approved the creation of the temporary permit process and waived the $95 permit fee.
Veena Sawant, township planner, said in 2018, the council adopted an ordinance for outdoor dining, which capped the number of outdoor seating at eight. If a restaurant wanted to have more than eight outdoor dining seats, it would prompt a planning and zoning review.
Sawant said with a temporary permit process each application will be evaluated thoroughly to ensure the health and safety of the residents and to ensure it does not hinder overall circulation of the location.
Township Attorney Mark Roselli said the creation of the temporary permit process is a proactive approach with respect to restaurants in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“When restaurants reopen there has been discussion of only 50% capacity inside,” he said. “Many restaurant owners would want to provide some outside dining. At least we can provide some relief to business owners.”
Steve Mamakas, executive director for the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, said he has been in contact with restaurant establishments since the pandemic started.
“I have socialized these concepts with them and they are eager to participate,” he said. “They are suffering … some [establishments] have two to three tables, now they will only have one. These are the proper steps to get them back on their feet in a responsible and safe manner.”
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