Government Maplewood

Outdoor Dining Rules, Responsible Alcohol Serving Discussed at Maplewood TC

The Maplewood Township Committee discussed outdoor dining regulations, and responsible alcoholic beverage serving at its meeting on Tuesday.

The township is considering amending the Café and Cold Weather Enclosure Ordinances to require permit holders who have constructed cold weather enclosures to maintain that sidewalk space during and after its use. Township Committeeman Dean Dafis said the enclosures often stain and discolor sidewalks during the winter, and that businesses should be responsible for power washing them.

The governing body also discussed a proposition to amend the current winter enclosure ordinance to allow businesses to keep the overhead of the enclosure up after May 1 (when the rest of the enclosure must be removed), as a sidewalk awning. Updating the ordinance might provide an opportunity to introduce code regarding sidewalk awnings. No such code currently exists.

Dafis said leaving the overhead up as an awning “could be more aesthetically pleasing” than regular awnings. Ideally, it would be less burdensome to café operators and pedestrians, as the enclosures do not take up as much space on the sidewalk as umbrellas. Committeeman Lembrich expressed concern that the enclosures might actually take up more sidewalk space, but after discussion the committee seemed generally in favor of amending the two ordinances.

In the second item, the TC considered updating the responsible alcohol beverage training necessary for business operators and vendors at township-sponsored events. While most servers are trained to serve alcohol, the current training does not include certain, more nuanced items. Dafis said his work with Essex County’s ADAPT program and the Municipal Alliance revealed that the NJ Beverage Association is now recommending a national model called Techniques in Alcohol Management (TAM). TAM provides extensive alcohol service/consumption training which includes conflict management and how to recognize a customer who has been over-served and get that customer home.

The Municipal Alliance recommended that the township require annual or biannual training by those who are licensed to serve alcohol. However, licensees already receive such training through the NJ Restaurant Association. Dafis proposed that the committee require biannual proof of TAM or the comparable Restaurant Association training, and that caterers, event planners and any organizations in town that serve alcohol comply with the training requirement, since many of them hire volunteers.

The Township Committee was generally in favor of the proposal.

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