Amendment allows diners to have drinks outdoors

NAUGATUCK — Diners in Naugatuck will soon have the chance to enjoy beverages with their meals in the fresh air.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses on Tuesday unanimously approved amending an ordinance to allow the sale and consumption of alcohol at restaurants that operate a seasonal outdoor dining area on a public sidewalk.

The change comes about after restaurants owners, particularly on Church Street, requested the ability to serve alcohol to patrons seating on the sidewalks. This was previously prohibited.

The borough began the process of amending the regulations in July.

Land use officials took surveys of the space available in specific areas, including along Church Street and Prospect Street, talked with restaurant owners, and measured sidewalks in front of the restaurants to ensure there would be at least 5 feet of clearance, Borough Attorney Ned Fitzpatrick explained during a public hearing on the amendment.

In January, the Zoning Commission approved the concept of serving alcohol on public sidewalks with some conditions, which included no additional exterior light fixtures at restaurants, ensuring there is a 5-foot passage that is kept clear along the sidewalk and obtaining hold harmless insurance.

Fitzpatrick said restaurants must be in compliance with all of the conditions before the borough can issue a permit for outdoor alcohol service.

He said the outdoor seating and alcohol service will only be permitted from April through October. Service is not allowed to start before 6 a.m. or continue past midnight, he said. This would ensure that patrons would head inside before the restaurants must legally stop selling alcohol at 2 a.m., he said.

“I’m all for it. I think it’s fantastic,” Deputy Mayor Robert Neth said.

Neth said his only concern is if people are drinking on the sidewalk they could just walk out into the road.

“Who, at that point, would police that type of activity,” Neth asked.

Fitzpatrick said the restaurant owners are always responsible for ensuring the behavior of the patrons. But if a patron does wander into the road while drunk, he said, police could be called to the scene.

No residents spoke during the hearing.