With the arrival of warmer weather, there’s good news for Hull restaurants that offer outdoor table service.
Outdoor dining under the expedited permitting process put in place by Gov. Charlie Baker in 2020 during the COVID19 state of emergency has been a big hit, benefitting Hull restaurants by granting them a way to make up for lost revenues, and allowing diners them the option to eat outside during pleasant weather.
That option was set to end April 1, but on the same day, the governor extended the expiration date to Spring 2023.
During this week’s Select Board meeting, Town Counsel James Lampke explained how the extension works, with the board voting in favor of providing an easy way for restaurants to take advantage of the extension if they wish to do so.
Those eateries that were granted permission to offer outdoor dining under the expedited process simply need to submit to the Select Board, as the licensing authority, a request to continue outdoor table service, along with a sketch of their outdoor seating plan, which must adhere to all building, safety, and health codes.
In so doing, “those requests would be deemed approved, with no need to go back to the Select Board unless the board requests them to do so,” Lampke said. “It’s important to recognize, though, that the [expedited permitting process] doesn’t allow restaurants to increase their capacity.”
The same process applies to restaurants that didn’t take advantage of the earlier COVID-related outdoor dining option but would qualify to do so now, according to Lampke.
Select Board member John Reilly expressed concern about reports that the Department of Conservation and Recreation is assessing a fee of $5,000 this season for restaurants that received permission earlier to situate outdoor seating and tables on portions of DCR-owned sidewalks near their establishments.
Lampke agreed it was “unfortunate to charge that kind of money for use of a small section of sidewalk while at the same time these restaurants are attracting visitors to the DCR area. This fee is close to the amount charged to Boston restaurants offering outdoor dining.”
Chair Jennifer Constable said that after talking with a DCR representative, she doesn’t think this will actually happen.
“Our restaurants don’t bring in nearly the same amount of money that Boston restaurants do,” she noted.
In other business at the meeting:
* Select Board member Donna Pursel reported that the Friends of the Paragon Carousel group needs volunteers to help with the various activities planned during the next several months.
“They’re ready for a great season and could use some help,” she said. A list of events and activities is posted on www.paragoncarousel.com.
* The board approved Veterans Agent Paul Sordillo’s request for an additional Memorial Day 2022 street dedication – with a letter of support and approval from the War Memorial Commission – for a plaque to be placed in front of the home of World War II veteran and American Service Medal recipient Charles “Charlie” Donahue at the corner of Coburn Street and Samoset Avenue, on the even side.