RARITAN TWP., N.J. – A month ago, the Raritan Township Committee approved an ordinance that allowed for outdoor dining when Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order allowing for outdoor dining to resume.

Outdoor dining was allowed to resume on June 15 as part of New Jersey’s second stage of reopening its economy.
Committeeman Gary Hazard said he didn’t think the township’s ordinance was receiving enough attention by restaurants in the township.

“I don’t believe our ordinance on the tents outside and dining was getting out enough through social media,” Hazard said.  

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He said he received a list of restaurants in the township so he can spread the news about the township’s easing of the rules to allow outdoor dining.

“I went out there with [Committeeman Lou Reiner], and a volunteer, and we basically delivered that ordinance to about 90 percent of those restaurants,” he said.

Under the ordinance, outdoor tables, chairs, umbrellas and benches for food establishments and bars are permitted on private property and sidewalks adjacent to establishments. The committee has since amended the ordinance to allow for some tents to be set up.

There is no permit fee for the application, though businesses who want to use a tent larger than 900 square feet or 30 feet in any dimension would have to pay a $55 permit fee.

The ordinance Hazard handed out was accompanied by a permit application and a letter from the zoning office. In addition, some restaurant owners received a follow up email on the ordinance.

Hazard made the comments during the June 16 township committee meeting.  His goal was to let restaurants know that they were ready to accelerate their business by expanding their outdoor capacity.  

He said it was a good effort to get the word out.

“People just didn’t know,” he said, “and that’s the problem. We just really don’t have a newspaper that people read anymore and a lot of people don’t read some of the other online media.”