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Williamstown to Take Up Regulations for Sidewalk Dining
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
12:27PM / Thursday, June 13, 2024
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Select Board on Monday got a preview of one of the first decisions it will face in the coming weeks: whether and how to regulate outdoor dining in public spaces in the town.
Town Manager Robert Menicocci told the board that the Legislature recently permanently enshrined some of the pandemic-era loosening of regulations around outdoor alcohol and food service for businesses holding indoor licenses.
Nothing changes for businesses that serve customers in outdoor spaces on private property — like the Taconic Golf Club, for example. But the new legislation does open up, on a permanent basis, the possibility for more table service on sidewalks outside restaurants.
Menicocci said the Select Board needs to consider how to regulate that practice, particularly on Spring Street, considering questions like how much of the sidewalk can be given over to table service and whether and how the restaurant space should be cordoned off from the public way.
He told the panel he would write up a draft regulation and bring it back to the board for a future meeting, where the public will be able to weigh in on any proposed bylaw.
In other business on Monday, the Select Board:
Approved a utility pole relocation and addition project on Berlin Road. A representative from Verizon told the board that the company had found some low-hanging wires in a 200- to 250-foot span in the area and needed a new pole to improve the situation.
• Agreed to keep board member Randall Fippinger as the board's liaison to the Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Equity Committee and Hogeland as its representative on the board of the Affordable Housing Trust. It also agreed to have Fippinger serve in the board's seat on the Community Preservation Committee, a post previously held by Jane Patton.
• Agreed to the renewal of an intermunicipal agreement with New Ashford to provide assessing services to the smaller neighboring community to Williamstown's south.
• Discussed the board's report to the DIRE Committee on the body's activities to create a more inclusive community as specified by Article 37 of the 2020 annual town meeting warrant.
• Heard a concern from the DIRE Committee about non-attendance by members at its meetings. Chair Shana Dixon asked the board for guidance on how to address the situation on the advisory body. Hogeland noted that provisions in the town bylaw for removing members for non-compliance are "kind of inadequate," and the topic led to a discussion of addressing the rule for all town boards and committees.
• Received a request from Main Street resident Susan Hoellrich that the town redo signage and road markings on Waterman Place and the adjacent "horseshoe" to better inform motorists who park in the area.
"In October 2023, my husband, Eric Hotaling, and I purchased the [Botsford House, 762 Main St.]. In the past nine months, we have encountered a steady and consistent amount of parking very close to the side of the building, and even on our lawn, next to our own vehicles.
"We have very nice commercial neighbors in Provisions, Dr. Budz and Masonic Lodge and do not want to interfere or hinder their business or organizations in any way. Recently, when Provisions applied for a special permit to expand their business … we felt this might be an appropriate time to approach the Select Board to reconsider the signage that dictates the parking on Waterman Place."
Stephanie Boyd told her colleagues that Community Development Director Andrew Groff is working on a proposal to bring the body in its capacity as the town's roads commission at a future meeting.
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