New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy Vetoed One Outdoor Dining Bill Because It Took Too Much Power Away From Zoning Officials. Will He Do That a Second Time?
Politics is preventing New Jersey’s restaurants, bars, and breweries from obtaining some much-needed protections and certainty about their outdoor dining operations.
Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) vetoed a bill passed by the state legislature that would have guaranteed these businesses’ right to use parking lots, sidewalks, streets, and other outdoor spaces for serving food and drink while the governor’s COVID-19 emergency order remained in effect. So long as their temporary spaces or outdoor structures had been lawfully used during the pandemic, local officials had to issue them permits within 15 days.
The problem for Murphy was that the legislation, A4525, took away too much power from local zoning officials to reject permits or charge fees for the permits they would issue.
“Municipalities would have almost no ability to reject an application based on public health or safety concerns, such as a proposed expanded area’s proximity to a school or church, or a licensee’s previous violations,” said Murphy in his statement.
The veto caught many by surprise given that A4525 had been passed unanimously by the legislature back in November after months of debate during which the governor had ample time to voice objections and request changes.
This week, lawmakers fast-tracked a slightly amended version of that bill which gives municipalities more flexibility to deny permits for health or safety reasons, allows them t
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