BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ The Bernards Township Committee is scheduled to vote on a measure that would loosen certain restrictions in municipal ordinances that would make it easier for local businesses to function while awaiting full reopening after statewide COVID-19 restrictions.

A resolution "permitting relief of certain ordinances to assist local businesses as they re-open following the lifting of COVID-19 executive orders" is on the posted meeting agenda for Tuesday's scheduled "virtual" Bernards Township Committee meeting at 8 p.m.

The activities for which portions of local ordinances can be relaxed, waived, and modified for local businesses while they are awaiting reopening may include, but are not limited to: 1) signs for businesses;  2) allowing curbside pick-up for food or merchandise; 3) allowing outdoor seating for dining; 4) allowing outdoor storage and sale of merchandise; 5) permitting street closings for certain activities; and 6) other services that can be performed outdoors.

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The governor has been allowing the reopening of the state in stages. Outdoor dining is set to resume throughout New Jersey on June 15.

As at remote Township Committee meetings since March, th municipal building at 1 Collyer Lane will not be open for the meeting, which will be conducted via Zoom video conferencing. The meeting will be streamed live via YouTube and a link will be posted on the Bernards Township website shortly before the meeting start time at 8 p.m. 

Public comment from Bernards Township residents will be accepted only during the public comment periods in the meeting, via email. Those who wish to file comments should include their name and address in the email and sent to municipalclerk@bernards.org. 

A township-wide emergency declaration approved on March 24 left open the possibility for the development and issuance of a "special use permit" to tbe issued to local businesses to "permit and facilitate various activities of reopening their business and such permit shall outline the activities and manner for how these activities and uses are to be conducted."

The emergency declaration states that “the mayor is authorized to grant temporary deviations or variances from the township’s general and land development ordinances where emergent circumstances for the benefit of the public health, safety and welfare so require,' and that the Township Committee would "reaffirm its commitment to the health, safety and welfare of its residents."

"This resolution shall take effect when such reopening activities are permitted by state statutes, regulations, or executive orders of Governor Murphy and accompanying executive directives from the New Jersey Department of Health, and may be amended, modified, or changed at any time to protect the health and safety of citizens," according to the proposed resolution up for vote on Tuesday night.