Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

May 15, 2020

PZC lays out ground rules for opening South Windsor restaurants

HBJ Photo | Joe Cooper The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk.

South Windsor's Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan for restaurants in town to provide temporary outdoor dining options that allows Environmental Health Officer Heather Oatis and Fire Marshal Walter Summers to monitor safety measures, as businesses closed by the novel coronavirus pandemic prepare to open next week.

Gov. Ned Lamont in March ordered all nonessential businesses to close in an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Ever since, restaurants have been operating with takeout and delivery only.

Town Planner Michele Lipe said the town planning department placed an application form for outdoor dining online Wednesday and no applications have been filed yet. The form calls for the property owner’s signature, along with stipulations that suitable barriers surround the dining areas and handicap access to and from seating is provided. Restaurants cannot serve patrons who are standing, or prepare food or beverages outdoors. Reservations also would be required, the document states.

No party greater than five may be served, and outdoor areas must close no later than 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, the document states.

An executive order issued Tuesday by Gov. Ned Lamont allows outdoor food and beverage service and outdoor displays of retail goods starting May 20, giving local officials the authority to approve those plans and set reasonable conditions, while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

Lipe said at Tuesday’s meeting that the town has a zoning regulation for outside dining in place, where if the eating area has more than four tables, it must go before the PZC for approval. Lipe said town officials have recently discussed barricades that could be necessary to achieve safe outdoor dining, particularly at Evergreen Walk. Officials said the state notified the town that a canopy over these outside eating areas would be required.

Town Engineer Jeffrey Doolittle said that any outdoor eating areas could not obstruct pedestrians from using sidewalks. Doolittle said tent areas could be set up in parking spaces, as long as the dining areas are well marked.

The current plan in place requires any restaurant applicant to provide a rendering of how it plans to use a canopy, Summers said. The town would review the layout plan to see if it meets safety requirements. Officials would also conduct a safety site inspection before it can open, he said.

The fire marshal’s office would evaluate the size of the canopy and its occupant load, if safe exits are provided, and any temporary heating source such as propane heaters, Summers said.

Oatis said the town health department’s concern would be how establishments deal with access to bathrooms or if they plan to use single-use items, such as plates and forks.

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF