Moorestown restaurants can now offer expanded outdoor seating

Council ordinance requires owners to submit plan for table spacing.

While Gov. Phil Murphy recently put plans to reopen indoor dining on hold, locals eager to dine at their favorite eatery have been able to do so al fresco. On Monday night, Moorestown Township Council adopted an ordinance that will allow local restaurants owners to bolster their outdoor seating arrangements.

The ordinance enables restaurants to extend their outdoor seating footprint, but business owners must obtain a permit through the township. Proprietors must submit an application with a plan in which they identify how their tables will be set up, with distance of 6 feet apart. 

As outlined, restaurateurs must abide by a set of standards to maintain their permit,  including servers wearing masks and use of their own trash receptacles. not those along Main Street. 

Outdoor dining areas can be extended to public sidewalks, level grass areas and in parking lots. Plans may also include temporary awnings, tents, pergolas and other structures to protect diners from the elements. 

Restaurants can also expand in front of a neighboring property, but an owner must obtain permission from both the property’s owner and all tenants. Applicants must submit written consent from the neighboring property as part of their application. 

The township’s zoning officer, construction official, fire official and police department will review applications and table plans. Once issued, the outdoor dining permit is valid until an executive order is issued that reverts to unrestricted indoor dining or until the township amends or repeals the ordinance.

The measure passed unanimously and without any discussion from council on Monday night. 

That meeting was the first since March to take place both in person and virtually. The township limited public attendance to 12 seats and asked that all those in attendance wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Council members thanked the public for their participation and for bearing with them as they navigate unprecedented waters.

“It’s hard for all those involved, and I appreciate the public staying engaged in spite of the fact it is complicated to participate in your local government,” said Councilman Michael Locatell.

Mayor Nicole Gillespie stressed that officials are still figuring out the best methods for conducting council meetings as the guidelines and restrictions continue to change.

“I appreciate those of you who are committed to staying involved in your government; it’s really important,” Gillespie said.

The next meeting of Moorestown Township Council will take place on Monday, July 27.