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Brick to Consider Allowing Outdoor Operation of Restaurants Once N.J. Permits Reopening

Outdoor dining at the River Rock restaurant in Brick, NJ. (Photo: River Rock Restaurant.)

Brick Township officials will vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would allow restaurants to operate outdoors once the state permits eating establishments to begin serving customers again in person.

Under current state guidelines, restaurants are only permitted to offer takeout and curbside service. But there is a chance Gov. Phil Murphy will allow restaurants to begin serving once again under certain conditions in the coming weeks or months. Brick officials see the outdoor dining ordinance as a way to allow restaurants to serve more customers while continuing to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

The ordinance, which will be considered at the May 12 council meeting, establishes a process that will give restaurant owners the ability to apply for a seasonal outdoor dining permit through the zoning office instead of having to undergo a full site plan approval.

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“The idea behind this ordinance is to help our local businesses. It is likely that when restaurants begin reopening that there will be social distancing rules in place that will reduce the number of available seats,” said Mayor John G. Ducey. “This ordinance will give restaurants the opportunity to increase the number of guests they can serve.”

The ordinance – which was discussed and put together by the administration and the township council’s Land Use Committee – will create a seasonal permit that is valid for 12 months which will allow restaurants to place seating for patrons outside of their building. Permit applications will be reviewed by the Zoning Officer, Police Department and Fire Marshall to ensure the application meets established laws, rules, regulations and codes.

The ordinance requires applicants to establish an outdoor dining area and provide details of barriers, spacing between tables, aisles and entrances to area. Restaurants will be responsible for ensuring furniture is secured, litter is managed, dining area is washed and noise ordinance are adhered-to.

Outdoor dining areas will be permitted to operate from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

The ordinance is on the agenda for first reading on May 12. If approved on first reading, the ordinance will be open to public comment at the May 26 Council meeting. If approved, the ordinance will go into effect 20 days later. The policy will be in effect for one year.

“The council and I fully support the Brick Township business community and this ordinance was developed to help them when they can finally start serving our community again,” Ducey said. “I fully anticipate the council approving this ordinance and I look forward to signing it and putting it into effect.”