FAIRFIELD, NJ — At Monday’s Township Council meeting, the governing body passed an ordinance that allows outside dining, even after the pandemic.

The terms of the ordinance are as follows: The combined seating capacity of both indoor and outdoor dining must not exceed the restaurant’s original approved indoor seating capacity, the outdoor dining must not affect parking requirements, a restaurant must obtain approval from the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control prior to serving any alcohol in the outdoor dining areas, it must meet police and fire departments’ traffic and safety requirements, the permanent open-air structures and covers must meet bulk requirements for its zone, all food and drink that is consumed and served must be prepared and stored in the interior of restaurant, tables and chairs must be sturdy and of sufficient strength, protective bollards or barriers near parking lots must be approved by the planning board and all tables, chairs and other items used in the outdoor dining area must be secured in times of inclement weather or high winds. 

Business Administrator Joseph Catenaro reported that the township received a message from the Fairfield Board of Education requesting that the BOE be allowed to bring professionals, along with their architect, to present their building plans to the general public at the December council meeting. Their building plans will be the subject of a referendum in January. The council, along with their attorney, Dennis Galvin, agreed that the BOE is an autonomous body, and this presentation should not take place at a council meeting. 

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Fairfield was notified by the state that the prices of homes have increased by 15 percent. Therefore, the township is subject to a revaluation. Catenaro reminded everyone that the township just went through the revaluation this year. Therefore, he asked the council for permission to file a complaint challenging the data of the division of taxation and their request. The council gave Catenaro permission to do so.

Fairfield is not new to flooding issues, said Catenaro. He reported that the township challenged FEMA as to the accuracy of their new flood maps that caused 770 Fairfield residents to have to purchase flood insurance. Their challenge was denied, but FEMA told Catenaro that an appeal was taking place in Morris County/Lincoln Park, and if they won the case, Fairfield would be recognized also, and the flood maps would be returned to normal. Lincoln Park won their case, so Catenaro is asking FEMA to be true to their word and to revise the elevation maps accordingly. Catenaro said, “It could take some time.” But he made it very clear that he wasn’t giving up.

He also explained that the township is working with the Community Rating System (CRS) on flood insurance to bring Fairfield from a level 5 to a level 6, which could lower flood insurance by 5 percent.

Councilman William Galese reported that the selling of the Halloween trick or treat lawn signs to Fairfield residents, who plan on distributing candy to trick or treaters, was a big success. He said that 250 signs were sold. They are still available by logging on to Community Pass through the Fairfield Township website or buying them at the recreation center. Galese also reported that the planning of Winter Wonderland is still in the works. He said they are working hard at developing a “contactless” event, and he is hoping that a Winter Wonderland event will take place. 

Councilman Michael McGlynn, liaison to the department of public works and the volunteer fire department, gave an update on both departments. McGlynn said that leaves must be kept from blocking storm sewers, and they should be left at the curbside. He reported that the fire department responded to 363 calls this year and praised them for being an “exceptional department.”