Patch: Morristown’s Denied Dining Plan Gets Senator’s Support

Anthony Bucco is asking NJDOT reconsider Morristown plan to shut down part of South Street to accommodate expanded outdoor dining.

MORRISTOWN, NJ – Restaurants in Morristown are preparing to reopen and expand outdoor dining as COVID-19 restrictions ease and Senator Anthony M. Bucco is asking a plan to close down parts of South Street get a second look from the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

“I support Mayor (Tim) Dougherty’s efforts to support struggling businesses along South Street and look forward to working with him to get this done,” said Bucco.

The plan, proposed weeks ago, was rejected.

“I’m getting a lot of e-mails and a lot of calls about shutting down South Street. We put the request in weeks ago,” Dougherty said in a video last week. “We were denied the request to shut down parts of South Street for the reopening of our outside shopping and dining. The state has rejected our request, I want the public to know that.”

Bucco sent a letter to NJDOT Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti noting that this step would allow Morristown restaurants to operate outside of the normal footprints, which will be necessary to accommodate social distancing requirements, meet the needs of pedestrians, and allow establishments to serve enough customers to make dining operations financially viable.

“You can imagine my great surprise when I heard that the New Jersey Department of Transportation has denied the request of Morristown to shut down parts of South Street, a State road, to accommodate expanded outdoor dining. This denial does not appear to be in the spirit of partnership that Governor (Phil) Murphy promised to help our restaurants and downtown communities survive this crisis,” Bucco said. “I urge the NJDOT to reconsider the proposal by Morristown to shut down part of South Street as originally requested. Absent that approval, I would like an explanation detailing the Department’s analysis for sustaining its denial along with any proposed alternatives the Department could offer to meet the needs of South Street businesses.”

Several area businesses are already preparing for the Monday diners. Peter Rotsides, the owner of the Morristown Diner, told Patch that they have new outdoor seating for full dining service using the parking lot in front and on the side of the diner.

Cluck-U-Chicken is setting up tables and chairs in the back of their new location near the 7-11. Nearby the Godfather of Morristown and the Fig and Lily will have outdoor seating.

Do you know of other places that are going to open for outdoor seating locally? Drop us a line at [email protected] or leave a message in the comments.