Fees to be waived for restaurants seeking outdoor dining permits

The Riverhead Town Board voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize its Building and Planning Administrator to waive fees for outdoor dining permits for restaurants.

Riverhead Town has also began accepting applications for temporary outdoor dining permits, Supervisor Yvette Aguiar announced Friday.

The proposal for outdoor seating aims to help restaurants, which have been prohibited from having indoor seating due to efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measure, which several other localities are considering, still needs approved from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, although officials think the governor may be planning to move restaurants from Phase 3 of the “reopening” plan to Phase 2, which would get them opened sooner.

The town’s plan seeks to allow restaurants, which would otherwise be limited to 50% of their previous capacity once they reopen, to make up the other 50% through outdoor seating.

The permit applications are on the town’s website. 

The town also is considering allowing tents for outdoor dining in some parts of the town, such as the riverfront parking lot.

The town also proposes to require such applications to be submitted online and town officials said they will be fast-tracked.

The State Liquor Authority also has agreed to fast track liquor licenses for outdoor dining establishments. 

“I commend Councilwoman (Jodi) Giglio for spearheading this, it’s need for the economy,” Councilman Tim Hubbard said.

Ms. Giglio had suggested allowing outdoor seating back in late April.