Selectmen Vote for Outdoor Dining to Return April 15, and End the Monday Prior to Thanksgiving

At Thursday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, the town’s traffic authority, the voted on the use of outdoor dining for the third year.

In 2022, the outdoor dining season will run starting April 15 through Nov 20, the first Monday prior to Thanksgiving. (Last year outdoor dining ran through mid-December).

Camillo said Greenwich last year kept their outdoor barriers for outdoor dining up about a month and a half past other towns, who took theirs down around the end of October.

“We kept it up a lot longer. We did notice, that except for a few, most did take them down around Thanksgiving,” he said.

Outdoor dining nodes on Greenwich Avenue. Photo: Leslie Yager

The biggest change from last year is the change in fees, explained town administrator, Ben Branyan.

While in the past outdoor dining was allowed but could not expand past a building’s frontage.

“Now we’re just saying you can still do that, but it cannot exceed four parking spaces,” Branyan added. “We’re trying to use the balancing act between restaurants and retail spaces.”

Fees for restaurants were waived in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic.

In 2021 they were reduced to 25%.

This year fees will be 100%.

Also, the fees for rentals of jersey barriers will be increased from $12.50 to $15 to begin to recover a portion of labor and equipment charges for installation and removal of the barriers.

Last year, the town brought in $32,275 in fees from 20 restaurants. Branyan said the average fee, which paid for three parking spaces and 46 linear ft of barriers, was $1,617 in 2021. This year it will be, on average, $5,202.

That boils down to $23.05 per day per restaurant.

Outdoor dining outside Elm Street Oyster House and Aux Delices.

“A couple good hours in one day makes up that whole fee that we’re charging,” Camillo said.

The fees are based on what the town would collect from the parking meters if they were in use.

“It’s a use of a public asset that we think has really enhanced our town. It’s one of the big silver linings that came out of the pandemic,” Camillo said. “It’s something we talked about in 2019 before the pandemic. This allowed us to do it quicker, people love it.”

“We would like it to be here for good, but we also want to make sure we’re being fair,” he added.

Branyan said it was anticipated that the special act allowing outdoor dining would not be renewed. However, he said a HB 5271 is proposed that would extend outdoor dining to 2023.

Outdoor dining by Terra Ristorante Italiano on Greenwich Avenue

First Selectman Fred Camillo and Selectwoman Lauren Rabin voted yes. Democratic Selectperson Janet Stone McGuigan abstained, noting she would have preferred allowing time for a second read to give a chance for feedback.

Also, a text amendment would be required from Planning & Zoning to align the dates approved by the Selectmen with those of the town regulation.

Currently the town regulation allows outdoor dining from April 1 through Nov 1.

The item is on a March 24 P&Z meeting agenda.