FALLS TOWNSHIP >> Two new police officers are joining the Falls Township Police Department.
During August's hybrid Falls Township Supervisors meeting, the board unanimously approved the hiring of Timothy Bishop and Dean Stecklair.
Police Chief Nelson Whitney said the new officers will maintain the status quo of 53 uniformed officers. Officers Bishop and Stecklair will fill positions made available as a result of recent retirements.
A Philadelphia Police Department officer since 2019, Bishop, of Philadelphia, was an active duty U.S. Marine from 2013 through 2018. He was honorably discharged at the rank of sergeant. Bishop holds an associate’s degree in accounting from the University of Maryland.
Stecklair, of Northampton Township, is a married father of three. He has worked as an Amtrak police officer since 2010. Prior to becoming a police officer Stecklair served as a volunteer firefighter and union carpenter with the Philadelphia Carpenters Union. Stecklair has an associate’s degree in applied science from Thaddeus Stevens College.
In other business, the supervisors voted unanimously to permit outdoor dining on a permanent basis. The ordinance took effect on Aug. 21.
In June, the board authorized advertisement of the ordinance, which officials said aimed to “centralize regulations related to outdoor dining.”
As enacted, Falls restaurants could offer outdoor dining either by right or under conditional use.
Township attorney Lauren Gallagher said the ordinance would allow for “more permissive outdoor dining uses” and would codify the provisions that had been tested out at the beginning of the pandemic.
Officials have said the township has received positive feedback from residents regarding outdoor dining.
Some changes would be required should businesses opt to continue offering outdoor dining on a permanent basis. Most notably, restaurants would no longer be permitted to use parking spaces for an outdoor dining area.
The ordinance states that “areas for outdoor dining shall not interfere with any means of ingress or egress to a building, or with any emergency or safety exits.” In addition, restaurants would need to have a minimum sidewalk width of five feet which is separate from the area reserved for outdoor dining. The ordinance also states that the property “must provide adequate parking for the principal use” and include pedestrian barriers to either enclose or separate outdoor diners from pedestrians or motorists.
Outdoor dining areas are in addition to a freestanding restaurant, bar/tavern, nightclub, lounge, or other related principal permitted use that has indoor seating.
The outdoor dining ordinance does not necessarily pertain to alcohol sales. Falls Township does not have jurisdiction over alcohol sales and consumption.