Beach moving to implement seasonal outdoor dining

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PHOTO BY MARK R. SULLIVAN

POINT PLEASANT BEACH — The borough council introduced an ordinance on Tuesday that would allow the continuation of outdoor dining in the borough once the state of emergency for COVID-19 is lifted. 

The new ordinance lays out rules and regulations for seasonal outdoor dining, broadening the scope currently allowed under the borough code. 

Changes would allow outdoor dining in parking lots, driveways and rooftops, safety permitting, annually from April through the end of November around the Inlet and in downtown. Guests would be allowed in dining areas until 10 p.m.

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“What it basically is meant to do is to try and increase the vibrancy of the town, specifically in areas where it makes sense,” Mayor Paul Kanitra said during Tuesday’s introduction. 

“I think we came to a solution that for people who are going to jump through all the proper hoops, which should take care of all those different facets, they’ll have an easier path to outdoor dining,” he said. 

The mayor said the borough had to make regulations tough enough to combat possible residential complaints and changes after COVID-19 regulations are lifted. 

“When we jumped into the state of emergency, we were trying to approve everything we can, we were letting people do whatever they wanted, and quite frankly, a lot of it looks like it was thrown together at the last minute,” said Mr. Kanitra. 

He said the ordinance will ensure spaces have the look and feel of a well-presented outdoor dining area.

Outdoor areas must be a minimum of 200 feet from any single-family residential structure unless there is an intervening structure, the ordinance says. 

The changes allow businesses to submit a waiver of their site plan if it cannot follow set ordinance guidelines. This change would allow for public input on particular dining areas in the borough, giving parties a chance to plead their case in front of the planning board. 

“It’s still streamlining because they won’t have to go to zoning, they’ll be able to go to planning; it takes into account the residents, since they’ll get notified, and then an objective group figures it out,” said the mayor. 

“There’s a lot of creative outdoor dining that, I think, paves the way for a multitude of businesses,” said the mayor. 

Establishments will pay $300 per parking space required for the additional seating per year, unless the required parking is provided.

Applications will be reviewed by the chief of police, the borough engineer, the health department and the building department, officials said. 

The mayor, borough engineers, attorneys and planners had worked through the ordinance for over eight months to ensure they got it right. 

“Although it’s taken eight months, this is an immeasurably better ordinance than the one we started with,” Borough Attorney Kevin Riordan said on Tuesday.

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