Governor Lamont visited Millwright’s Restaurant in Simsbury this week to announce the signing of a bill extending the regulations that made outdoor dining easier during COVID-19. Last spring, the Governor issued executive order 7MM, allowing municipalities to expand outdoor dining by suspending various zoning rules, hearings, and permit requirements. The new legislation codifies this provision, allowing restaurants to operate under the relaxed rules through March 31, 2022.
“This legislation enables our local restaurants to exercise flexibility and creativity in providing safe, comfortable service during the pandemic,” said First Selectman Eric Wellman. “I am proud of the actions we have taken in Simsbury to support our local businesses and focus on their recovery.” Deputy First Selectman Sean Askham agreed. “This common sense bill allows municipalities to use the tools we have at the local level to support businesses as they continue to adapt to the challenges brought on by COVID-19.”
When executive order 7MM was issued last year, the Simsbury Main Street Partnership worked with the Town’s Planning and Building departments, the Fire District, and the Farmington Valley Health District to streamline the approval process for outdoor dining. Through this administrative approval process, which was enabled by vote of the Zoning Commission, most outdoor dining applications were approved in less than 48 hours.
In addition, the Board of Selectmen voted to waive zoning and building permit fees for temporary outdoor dining. With the relaxed rules now permitted by the state through March 31, 2022, the Zoning Commission and the Board of Selectmen extended both the administrative approval process and the fee waivers for another year.
Sarah Nielsen, Executive Director of the Simsbury Main Street Partnership, emphasized how critical this support has been for local businesses. “The unanimous, bipartisan support of the Board of Selectmen not only helps our restaurants, but sends a clear message that we will step up to the plate as partners of the business community when they need it the most.”
Pictured above, left to right: Sean Askham, Deputy First Selectman ; Chef Tyler Anderson, Millwright’s Restaurant; Governor Ned Lamont; Selectwoman Wendy Mackstutis; Maria Capriola, Town Manager; Mike Glidden, Director of Planning and Community Development; Sarah Nielsen, Executive Director of the Simsbury Main Street Partnership