John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Compliant vs. NonCompliant Outdoor Dining

Compliant vs. NonCompliant Outdoor Dining

Newtown Township recently passed Resolution 2020-R-13 to allow Outdoor Sales and Dining during COVID-19 state-mandated restrictions (read "Newtown Supervisors Approve #COVID19 Outdoor Sales & Dining Resolution").

While driving through town, I noticed two different restaurants with outdoor dining spaces located in parking spaces in front of their establishments. One - Playa Bowls, located in the Village of Newtown Shopping Center - was compliant with the resolution (see photo at left), and one - which I won't name - was not compliant with the resolution.

When passing this resolution unanimously, Newtown Supervisors were mainly concerned that such outdoor seating be safe. The barriers that Playa Bowls uses ensure the safety of their patrons, whereas the non-compliant business merely uses cones and yellow tape that puts their patrons in harms way, IMHO (see photo below).

Cars come and go in a parking lot and when exiting parking spots opposite outdoor seating areas it is possible for cars to backup and plow into diners unless secure barriers are in place.

The barriers used by Playa Bowls are called "Jersey Barriers," which were developed in the 1950s, beginning in the U.S. state of New Jersey as separators between lanes of a highway. Now, plastic water-filled barriers of the same general shape are also called Jersey barriers.

How to Comply

A Township Memorandum, which is handed out to applicants, briefly explains what is necessary for existing retail and restaurant establishments to utilize outdoor space for business purposes.

Specifically, the memo states "To Protect the Health, Safety and General Welfare of the Public" applicants must provide the following:

Written permission from the landlord/property owner that the business is permitted to utilize the expanded area for that purpose.

A site plan showing all of the following information:

  1. The new occupant load showing compliance with the state adopted building code and the mandate on social distancing. [The state criteria are included in the memo]
  2. Depeiction of ADA accessibility and egress provisions
  3. Location of outdoor seating or merchandise sales amenities.
  4. The pedestrian protection system location and type of barriers to be utilized.
  5. If a temporary structure (tent etc.) is to be utilized application must be made to the Township Emergency Services for approval.

In addition, designated ADA/handicapped parking stall and associated egress areas shall not be used for outdoor seating and public rights-of-way, access drives, public easements etc. shall not be utilized for outdoor merchandise sales or dining.

Appears pretty straight-forward and simple to me. 

While I am supportive of helping local businesses thrive during this period - I argued for relaxing Township zoning regulations to help local business beginning in early May (see here) - I believe "we are all in this together," which I take to mean that there must be a level playing field; i.e., every business should comply with the same rules. 

Posted on 15 Jul 2020, 11:40 - Category: COVID-19

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