HOWELL – The Howell Township Council will continue to waive permit fees through Sept. 30, 2021 for business operators who want to extend their premises to continue operating during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In May, council members explained that a sidewalk sale or the installation of a temporary outdoor seating area would require the issuance of land use permits and the payment of fees.
Given the financial impact the pandemic was having on local businesses, the members of the governing body passed a resolution waiving fees pertaining to sidewalk sales, outdoor dining areas and/or signs. The fees were scheduled to be waived through Dec. 31.
Township Manager Brian Geoghegan said about 35 outdoor dining permits at $85 per permit would equal $2,975 and about 30 establishments using signs, without enforcement, at $30 each would equal about $900.
“Assuming we would have done $85 per outdoor dining/retail set-up and $30 per sign permit, I would put us at about $4,000 worth of waived fees,” Geoghegan said.
During a meeting on Dec. 8, council members discussed the idea of continuing to waive the fees into 2021.
“We received so many emails from people in town who own business and from the friends of people who own businesses. (They) asked if we can continue (to waive) the permit fees,” Mayor Theresa Berger said.
“At this point, I would hope the council would like to move forward and (continue to waive the fees). I would say throughout 2021, or if you want to be more conservative, maybe for six months and we can come back and re-evaluate. The outcry was huge and I think we should extend (waiving the fees) to our businesses. Everybody is struggling,” Berger said.
“I think we need to help our small business and I think (waiving the fees) is a great idea,” Councilwoman Pamela Richmond said.
Councilman John Bonevich said the zoning officer suggested waiving the permit fees at least until September.
Deputy Mayor Evelyn O’Donnell concurred with her fellow council members and suggested extending the waiver of permit fees until September, when the issue can be revisited.
The council members decided to waive the permit fees until September.