Committee Approves Restaurant’s Outdoor Dining Plan

FENWICK ISLAND – The construction of a permanent outdoor dining area will move forward at a restaurant in Fenwick Island with approval from the town’s building committee.

Last Friday, the Fenwick Island Building Committee voted unanimously to approve the construction of a 540-square-foot outdoor dining area at Our Harvest restaurant on Coastal Highway.

“It’s a 540-square-foot deck with a pergola and 48-feet-by-6-feet walkway along the canal,” Building Official Pat Schuchman said. “That is not a parking area and it isn’t taking up any parking.”

Committee member and Councilman Bill Weistling questioned if the owner had received the necessary approvals from various state and county agencies. Schuchman said the owner had received preliminary clearance from Sussex County.

“The builder was given information to go to the fire marshal, Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Sussex County and the health department,” she said. “So they’re waiting on approval before they proceed.”

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Schuchman noted, however, that the construction of the deck could begin if the building committee approved the owner’s plans. Under Stage 2 of the state’s COVID-19 recovery plan, she explained, the restaurant would also be able to serve on the deck before any approvals from the Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

“Keep in mind we are in COVID-19 recovery,” she said. “So I’m assuming if you guys approve it they would proceed with the construction of the deck and work along the guidelines the state has for outdoor seating until stage 2 is over. But now is when they need to make their applications with the ABC, the fire marshal. Right now, I would think because of COVID-19 recovery they’d be able to build that deck and serve on that deck, even before they have their approval, particularly from the ABC because they have the blanket approval to operate outside in their parking lot.”

Schuchman clarified, however, that the construction of the deck and any outdoor dining operations hinged on the approval of the building committee.

While the deck would be a permanent outdoor dining area, committee member Reid Tingle asked if the town had any issues with temporary outdoor dining areas allowed under its COVID-19 guidelines. As of last week, five restaurants in Fenwick had applied for a special events permit to allow for temporary outdoor seating.

Schuchman noted the town did not have any issues with the temporary seating areas. She added the construction of the permanent deck at Our Harvest complied with the town’s definition of an outside service area.

“They comply with this,” she said.

Weistling agreed, and made a motion to approve the owner’s application for the construction of a dining deck.

“I looked over the sketch. It meets the square footage requirements and there’s no roof above it …,” he said. “It’s in compliance with our town ordinance, so I would vote to allow the permit to proceed.”

With no further discussion, the committee voted unanimously to approve the permit.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.