FLEMINGTON, NJ - The Flemington council voted unanimously on a first reading of Ordinance 2020-7, which will allow borough restaurants to offer outdoor dining once store-based dining is permitted.
Since it’s likely that when restaurants are allowed to offer on premises dining it will be limited to anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of seating capacity inside, by adding tables outside they will be able to increase the number of patrons they can serve while staying within the state-mandated limits.
The new ordinance amends the current zoning ordinance and specifies its intent as, “an effort to expedite the stimulation of local food-related businesses in the wake of COVID-19 and its restrictions.”
The outdoor seating areas will have to be located on a sidewalk or privately owned property adjacent to the main restaurant building and in an area unenclosed by fixed walls or ceilings, except for retractable awnings, umbrellas or other non-permanent enclosures. In addition, all of the setup materials, such as tables, chairs, umbrellas and lamps must be removable.
Restaurant owners will need to get a permit, which typically costs $50, however, that fee is being waived until further notice. The process for filing an application and creating a site plan is detailed in the nine-page ordinance.
The ordinance was accompanied by Resolution 2020-92, which formally sent the revised law to the planning board for review. According to Mayor Betsy Driver, this was just a formality since the planning board has already addressed the issue.
Councilman Jeremy Long, the liaison to the planning board, said they have been working on the wording of the outdoor dining application.
“We want it to be fair and equitable," he said.
The second reading and public comment for this ordinance will be at the council meeting on May 26.
After the ordinance was approved, the mayor clarified that the final passage of the ordinance does not mean it will immediately go into effect. She said that will only happen when the executive order banning on-premises dining is lifted.