Town allowing requests for longer hours

Town allowing requests for longer hours

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The town is now accepting requests from owners of restaurants and bars for extended outdoor seating and will address them on a case-by-case basis.

A change approved by the Town Council this month extends a previous emergency ordinance allowing outdoor seating to Dec. 1 and allows individual applications to be made.

If businesses want to keep their outdoor areas open beyond 11 p.m. and serve for longer hours, they can approach the council with their plan, said Stefano Famiglietti, head of the town’s ordinance subcommittee that decided against recommending broader rules to encompass everyone.

Much of what will go into deciding on a later closing time will be the impact of the business on surrounding residential neighborhoods, said Famiglietti. Asked by The Breeze how that might work with nearly every commercial district abutting residential streets, he said it will be up to business owners to present an adequate plan.

Famiglietti said the thought was that perhaps given what businesses have gone through, the best avenue was deemed to be amending the section of the ordinance to allow businesses to request to extend outdoor hours beyond 11 p.m. Inside spaces across the state are required to shut down by 11 p.m.

The ordinance committee had considered the potential of extending hours to midnight for everyone, but decided to take each case as it comes. Council members have expressed some apprehension about later outdoor hours for food and entertainment, citing the potential impact to the quality of life of neighbors.

“We want them to come and say, ‘this is what we want to do,’” said Famiglietti. If someone wants to stay open until 1 a.m. and they border a neighborhood, that might not be such a good idea, he said.

“It allows them the opportunity to make their case,” he said. “At least we’ll have the opportunity to hear them out. We don’t want to be the body to handcuff them.”

Council members say they want to maintain North Providence’s reputation for being friendly to businesses, but need to make sure interests of everyone are maintained.

With colder weather coming, council members expect more requests to include plans for keeping people warm in tents and outdoors. Deliberations will be used to remind businesses that they need to comply with all state and local laws on fire codes and zoning, Famiglietti said.