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East Brunswick council waives outdoor structure fees for restaurant owners

Southbound portion of Witherspoon Street in Princeton displaying general seating for outdoor dining on June 23.

EAST BRUNSWICK–Helping ease the financial burden for many local restaurants, the Township Council approved a resolution waiving permit fees for establishments with outdoor dining structures.

“The continuing pandemic has caused so many small East Brunswick businesses to suffer. The restaurant and bar industry [has] sustained some of the worst losses. The township wants to do everything it can to help sustain this vital part of our economy and our community. The waiving of the UCC [Uniform Construction Code] fees is just a start as we call upon all our residents to lend a hand at this most difficult time,” Mayor Brad Cohen said in a prepared statement.

In June, the New Jersey of Codes and Standards provided guidance on the issuance of permits and the use of tents, tensioned membrane structures and canopies per the Uniform Fire Code (UFC) and Uniform Construction Code (UCC), according to the council.

Due to the approaching winter weather conditions, establishments that want to maintain the use of tents past Nov. 30 are required to apply for a UCC permit from their local construction office, according to the council.

The council approved a resolution to waive the required permit fees, for a period from Dec. 1 through March 31, 2021, on Nov. 30 during the council meeting via video conference.

This resolution does not apply to any fees assessed by fire districts in connection with the required fire permit application for said tent structures, according to the council.

“I just wanted to add that we’re also going to be asking our fire districts to see if they can try to provide the same type of benefit and waiving any fees to these businesses that are struggling because part of the governor’s executive order that just came down this weekend includes having all of those inspections done for fire safety should there be any changes in these tents or outdoor places for people for eating,” Cohen said.

“We really just want to do everything possible to help the businesses from being hit by a flurry of fees while they’re struggling,” Cohen said.

Council Vice President Sharon Sullivan asked how the township will notify the local restaurants that they don’t need to pay permit fees.

Business Administrator Joseph Criscuolo said the township economic development officer has written up a press release that was sent out on Dec. 1 to the press.

“He also will communicate with the list of people that he has already done. He knows he may have to make additional accommodations. He will also notify the Chamber of Commerce, will advertise it on EBTV’s Facebook page, and we’ll do a Nixle and a Civic Alert message,” Criscuolo said.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.

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