The Village of Pleasantville last week gave the green light for local restaurants and other village retail establishments to legally offer their services outdoors.
The Village Board approved an add-on to the code allowing businesses to access adjacent street areas until the end of the year.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, New York State ordered all but essential businesses to close. Restaurants were prohibited from serving patrons inside, and were only able to offer delivery or curbside pick-up services.
As the number of Westchester coronavirus cases and deaths have declined, Mid-Hudson region, which includes Westchester, moved to Phase 2 on June 9, which allowed restaurants to reopen and serve patrons outside provided there are distancing protocols. The region was expected to enter Phase 3 on Tuesday, which would add indoor dining at 50 percent capacity along with personal services such as nail salons, tattoo parlors and spas. The temporarily amended Pleasantville code requires an Outdoor Business Area Permit for retailers such as restaurants, gym operations and personal care services to move their services outside. Those businesses must apply for the permit at the Building Department and provide a site plan specifying if they wish to expand into a private parking lot or onto village-owned property or a public street, parking lot, sidewalk area, alleyway, park or other public area. Applications will be approved by Building Inspector Robert Hughes.
“This provides a mechanism for the village to streamline outdoor dining proposals,” Pleasantville Administrator Eric Morrissey said during last Monday’s public hearing. “The village can approve outdoor seating in front of another business retail establishment if the restaurant gets written permission.”
The new code also allows village retailers to circumvent the standard village application process.
“The intent of this is that it doesn’t require getting on some board’s agenda,” said Pleasantville Mayor Peter Scherer. “It just requires Robert (Hughes) to look at what you are going to do and submitting a plan for how the expansion will be done. He’s a very responsible and professional guy.”
Operating restrictions are the responsibility of the business owner. For restauranteurs, food and beverages served outside must be prepared inside the established and alcoholic beverages can only be served to seated patrons. Other rules include tables set at least six feet apart and for face masks to be worn by staff and by customers when they aren’t seated. Tables and chairs must be disinfected after every customer leaves.
During the hearing, discussions focused on possible problems posed by dining outdoors, including how to arrange tables without conflicting with curbside pick-up and pedestrians or keeping large groups of people to a minimum.
“We don’t have a means of literally controlling it other than telling the restaurants what spaces they are allowed to occupy,” Scherer said. “The reality is if too many people come, hopefully they will quickly see no tables are available and they will leave. Patrons will not be allowed to buy food and drink and stand in the middle of the street.”
The new code also stipulates that outdoor business areas must comply with all state and local building and fire code provisions including points of ingress and egress and access to fire extinguishers. There must also be compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
The village may require a business owner to install a physical barrier or separation to protect patrons and employees from vehicular traffic, such as bollards, planter boxes or a Jersey barrier.
Many other municipalities in the area have added similar temporary provisions to allow for outdoor dining, and in some cases, personal services and gym operations to operate outside.