Greenwich P&Z to Expedite Outdoor Dining in Response to Lamont’s Order 7MM

Governor Lamont’s executive order 7MM allows outdoor commerce starting May 20, 2020 and streamlines the approval process.

Retail businesses will be limited to 50% of their indoor use. Restaurants will be allowed to operate with outdoor seating only. Indoor areas and bar areas must remain closed.

On Friday morning Greenwich’s Planning & Zoning director Katie DeLuca sent a memo outlining the State’s Phase 1 of “ReOpen CT.” Click here for Sector Rules and Certification for the May 20 openings.

“Planning & Zoning finds this approach essential to our economic recovery and supports it wholeheartedly,” DeLuca wrote, adding that Order 7MM will “potentially allow commerce to operate on sidewalks, in parking lots, in street parking and possibly in closed streets — subject of course to health and safety reviews by all the relevant Town authorities as well as restrictions on hours of operation.”

“The Town Departments are currently hard at work on an implementation plan,” she said.

In short, Executive Order 7MM issued on May 12, 2020 allows municipalities to:

  1. Expedite changes to their zoning rules or other ordinances to expand outdoor dining;
  2. Creates an expedited approval process for restaurants and other establishments that serve food to get fast-tracked permission to create or expand outdoor dining areas;
  3. Allows other businesses such as retail stores to get fast-tracked permission to sell goods on the sidewalk or in other outdoor areas, including shared spaces or spaces provided by municipalities;
  4. Allows restaurants and other businesses who already have liquor permits to serve alcohol only with food without applying for a separate patio or extension of use permit; and
  5. Allows private clubs to sell alcohol only to their members for delivery or pickup.

Application form for Temporary outdoor dining due to Corona.

Earlier in the week a memo from the State Building Official and Fire Marshal to municipalities clarified 7MM, and urged towns to facilitate safe arrangements.

“We need to keep in mind we are dealing with people who are struggling to keep their businesses going and are reacting in the moment just as we are. So, the key here is facilitation, help them get to a safe arrangement,” the memo said, going on to note that establishments are responsible for maintaining the 50% capacity and 6 feet of social distancing requirements. Tents require permits only if greater than 400 sq ft, or 700 sq ft if open on all sides. Restrooms must be provided and seating needs to be accessible to the dining room.

Per Re-open CT – Outdoor Dining Advisory, the most important consideration will be the health and safety of patrons and staff.

“We are hearing tremendous excitement from retailers and restaurants about next week’s reopening,” said Chamber of Commerce director Marcia O’Kane in an email Friday morning. “Greenwich residents are ready to be outdoors and more social in a safe way. This will definitely be a positive lift and a boost to our local economy.”

On his Ask the First Selectman radio show Friday morning, Fred Camillo said there is renewed talk of making Greenwich Avenue an open air pedestrian mall.

“I foresee Greenwich Avenue being closed from Memorial Day to Labor Day for the warm weather months – being closed to traffic from 5:00pm or 5:30pm on, with a lot of parking available on the side streets and in the parking lots in the back,” he said. “Now is our chance to transform the downtown area and make Greenwich Avenue – at least for part of the year – that open air pedestrian mall concept we’ve been talking about forever.”

Camillo said for now the town is looking at relaxing zoning in all parts of town with business districts for possible closure of roads or parts of roads for the benefit of local commerce.