Extending Worcester's Outdoor Dining Program Tabled for Now

 by TWIW StaffMarch 28, 2021

WORCESTER - At last week's License Commission meeting, the City of Worcester proposed extending its temporary outdoor dining program to January 1, 2022.

The 96 establishments participating in the temporary outdoor program currently have licenses which remain valid until May 1.

The City recommended the program be extended to Jan. 1, 2022 and if Governor Charlie Baker lifts the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' State of Emergency, then licenses will remain in effect for only 60 days after the State of Emergency has been lifted. The establishments would have have to renew their license within that 60 days.

The License Commission chose to table the recommendation to extend the licenses to Jan. 1 until their next meeting.

Significant concern was expressed by Commissioner Barbara Haller regarding the proximity of outdoor dining establishments to residential neighborhoods -- namely issues concerning lack of parking and noise from crowds and entertainment. Haller received a letter from the Shrewsbury Street Neighborhood Association that expressed these concerns at length.

The City estimated 70 of the 96 establishments would be using parking lots to provide outdoor dining.

The City is also looking at zoning requirements and street and sidewalk regulations to ultimately propose permanent permitting for outdoor dining.  Any changes to the permitting process would have to be approved by the City Council first.

The License Commission meets again on Thursday, April 1.

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