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New Outdoor Cafe Rules Spark Whining And Dining

Nyack April 21 — On South Beach’s trendy Ocean Drive, pedestrians need to navigate a narrow outdoor dining gauntlet designed to slow pedestrian traffic and entice tourists to wine and dine. It’s not quite that bad on Nyack’s Main Street and Broadway — and the Village Board hopes new outdoor dining regulations enacted this week  will keep paths free and the visitors coming to the village.

In the past, some restaurants would play “cat and mouse” with Nyack’s Building Department, setting up additional tables, removing them after complaints, and putting them back when the inspectors weren’t looking. The new rules require outdoor venues to provide a sidewalk seating plan when they apply for a permit and let the building department rescind a restaurant’s outdoor privileges after three violations of the rules.

Part 7b of Nyack’s new Street Cafe regulations

The Building Inspector may refuse a renewal of the permit (1) if in his judgment the use at that location has unreasonably interfered with vehicular or pedestrian traffic; or (2) if the premises has a history of non-compliance with the property maintenance standards in the Village Code, as evinced by three (3) convictions for a violation of any property maintenance related charge; or (3) there is an outstanding violation of the site plan filed in connection with the permit; or (4) or for other good cause.

The rules also stipulate a minimum distance of five clear feet from any obstruction in the dining area — which includes MuniMeters, trees, utility poles and outdoor lighting. The seating plan can’t block entrances/exits or driveways, block lines of sight for motor vehicles or “unduly impede pedestrian traffic.”  Sidewalk cafes must be at least 50 feet away from any single or multi-family residences.

Gina Cambre, owner of Casa del Sol of Nyack on Main Street, says the new rules are unfair to restaurant owners,  following a disappointing pattern in how the village deals with its businesses. “Every solution in Nyack is piecemeal, never integrating lessons from past mistakes or a solid vision of what Nyack should be in the future.  If forcing us to remove tables/ business/ visitors to accommodate their new gauntlet of poorly planned streetscaping is the error in judgement du jour, why is anyone surprised?” Cambre says Nyack lacks vision when compared to other riverfront towns where outdoor dining is a main attraction. “Where’s the strategic planning?” she says.

Although several restaurant owners have protested the new rules saying it will mean fewer tables and less revenue, Nyack Gourmet owner Cris Spezial supports the new regs. “I am sure that many people have many opinions. The bottom line, however, is that if cafe permit holders wish to have outdoor dining, they MUST observe ALL the codes and regulations,” he said. Spezial added that the business owners have a responsibility to follow the rules whether or not they agree with the changes. “If I or anyone else with a permit are in violation of any of the spelled out requirements, then I am responsible for paying the violation fee. It is my responsibility to adhere to the codes,” he said.

Nyack’s Village Board enacted the new cafe dining rules at its regular meeting on April 19, 2012.

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See also: Nyack’s new Street Cafe regulations



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