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Friday, April 2, 2021

Ruthie's going to HATE this!

McEntee bill would let restaurants continue to use COVID modifications without town penalty 

Bridge Restaurant in Westerly (South County Tourism)
House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Carol Hagan McEntee’s (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) legislation (2021-H 6119) which imposes a one year moratorium on enforcement of municipal ordinances or zoning requirements that penalizes owners of food service establishments for modifications and alternations to their premises in response to an emergency declaration was heard by the House Small Business Committee on March 26.

“Our restaurants are consistently ranked as one of our state’s best assets and this storied industry has been truly decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  While many businesses have sadly closed their doors for good, our hospitality industry has adapted and many restaurants and other businesses have invested great sums of money in order to continue operating in a safe manner for the public.  

"In particular, the ‘take it outside’ initiative proved to be a great success and the purpose of this legislation is to allow these businesses to continue ‘taking it outside,’ especially as the weather begins to turn more favorable once again.  

"Presently, many, if not all of these businesses, would be running afoul of their local zoning laws once our current emergency declaration is lifted and we cannot let that happen to these already struggling small businesses.  This bill will give our restaurants and other hospitality businesses the chance to earn back the significant losses they have all incurred over the past year, we owe them all that much,” said Chairwoman McEntee.

The moratorium proposed by Representative McEntee would be effective during the period of emergency and for one year after the emergency declarations is rescinded.

The bill also directs cities and towns to conduct a review of all permitted nonconforming uses provided to food service establishments and bars for potential adoption and codification.  

The legislation also calls for cities and towns to adopt an application procedure for food service establishments to petition for authorization to allow the nonconforming use after the moratorium.

Representatives Gregory J. Costantino (D-Dist. 44, Lincoln, Smithfield, Johnston), Justine A. Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich), Terri Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown), Robert D. Phillips (D-Dist. 51, Woonsocket, Cumberland), Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport), Liana M. Cassar (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence), Joshua J. Giraldo (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls), Julie A. Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter), and Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence) are the cosponsors of the legislation.