Hudson Select Board opens up outdoor dining rules

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By Justin Roshak, Contributing Writer

Welly's has an outdoor dining area in front of its restaurant in Hudson.  Photo/Laura Hayes
Welly’s has an outdoor dining area in front of its restaurant in Hudson.
Photo/Laura Hayes

HUDSON – The Hudson Select Board recently amended town rules to allow businesses more flexibility in how they arrange their outdoor dining. 

“It came to light that in the outdoor, licensed dining area that Welly’s currently has in place, there’s an inconsistency with the sidewalk dining rules as they’re written,” Executive Assistant Thomas Gregory told the board at their July 12 meeting. 

The existing sidewalk dining rules required that the eating area leave a four-foot pathway closest to the street. However, Welly’s Restaurant has been utilizing the street edge while keeping a four-foot path along their building. That was technically improper, according to the old regulations. 

“The intent of this recommendation is to align the regulations with what Welly’s has in place right now,” Gregory said. “My recommendation is to remove the words ‘closest to the street.’” 

The Select Board discovered the inconsistency at their June 7 meeting. They unanimously approved the change on July 12. 

The outdoor dining regulations were first promulgated in 2018. However, the COVID-19 pandemic made streetside real estate a critical issue for businesses as they navigated interior dining limits. 

The change will allow businesses to position their chairs and tables against the street, provided they leave an unobstructed four-foot pathway somewhere along the sidewalk. The change retroactively approves Welly’s arrangement and opens the door for other businesses to develop similar set-ups. 

“It’s not limited to Welly’s possibly in the future,” said Select Board Chair Scott Duplisea. “Right now, they’re the only one that has that situation, but it could happen in a couple other locations if restaurants were there and wanted to go out into those areas.”

“What that essentially does is aligns with what Welly’s, the restaurant in the rotary, had in place for the moment. It provides some flexibility,” Gregory said.