YARDLEY BOROUGH >> With the state continuing to limit restaurants to 25 percent capacity due to COVID-19, the Yardley Borough Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to extend outdoor dining zoning relief through the end of the year.
In June, council voted unanimously to loosen its parking requirements to allow borough eateries and restaurants to provide an outdoor dining option during the COVID-19 emergency. It also agreed to reduce permit fees for the use of tents.
Council had originally voted to extend the relief on a month to month basis, but Councilwoman Caroline Thompson this week recommended the borough break with that and extend it until at least the end of October.
“We made it month by month to see if there were going to be any issues. There haven’t been any other then a few complaints,” said Thompson. “Nothing’s going to change. They’re still at 25 percent capacity indoors,” she said.
After Councilman Uri Feiner raised concern about ending the relief just as Canal-O-Ween begins, council agreed to extend the loosening of restrictions through the end of the year.
With this week’s vote, restaurants and eateries can continue offering the outdoor dining option through the end of the year without having to meet parking requirements and with a discount on tent permit fees.
“I’m very thankful we have businesses that invest in Yardley. They are doing their best to keep going and the public is doing their best to support them,” said Councilman Uri Feiner. “To give them this extra time, instead of having to live month by month, and let them plan their finances is really important.”
Prior to the vote, West College Avenue resident Dawn Perlmutter raised concern about outdoor dining in front of the Vault, which she said creates an obstacle course for pedestrians and forces people into the street to circumvent the tables, chairs and umbrellas.
“I certainly appreciate that the restaurants need to have outdoor dining, but the sidewalk in front of the Vault is really problematic. You cannot walk on that sidewalk,” she said. “It has to be a safety hazard. Here you’re extending this a couple more months. It’s just inviting an issue to happen. The others are in parking lots and don’t seem to be as much of a problem.”
Feiner said those issues can be addressed on a case-by-case basis, but said it wasn’t a reason not to extend the ordinance waivers through the end of the year.
“Individual issues are relevant. And business by business, we need to sort those out. It’s been brought to our attention. It’s something we have to work out. But the overarching issue here is we need to do what we can to keep these businesses in business,” said Feiner.
In other action, council voted unanimously to formally accept the resignation of Councilman Ryan Berry. Berry submitted his resignation to council at the end of July.
In his July 25 letter to council, Berry said he’s resigning in order to devote his time to “other matters important to me and that need my time, energy and attention. I leave Council in capable hands.”
During his tenure on council, Berry successfully worked to prevent development of a parcel of borough-owned woodlands on Reading Avenue. He subsequently led efforts to preserve the land and to seek out grant opportunities to carry out the goals of the Reading Avenue Committee.
“In 2016 that looked absolutely impossible to achieve, but we did the impossible,” he said of saving the property. “I will always view those woods as a victory,” he said.
Borough residents interested in filling out Berry’s term are encouraged to submit an application and resume to Yardley Borough Manager Paula Johnson. They can be mailed to Yardley Borough, attention Paula Johnson, 56 South Main Street, Yardley 19067 or emailed to email@example.com. For information or to request an application, call 215-493-6832.
The borough council has tentatively scheduled public interviews via Zoom during its Tuesday, Sept. 1 council meeting. The council has 30 days to fill the vacancy.
In other business, council voted unanimously to direct borough engineer Lisa Colletti to design the next phase of the North Main Street sidewalk project, from Wayfairing to the Mary Yardley Footbridge easement, at a cost of $89,215.
The engineering will be paid for with a $125,000 grant the borough received from the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s (CFA) Multimodal Transportation Fund in November 2019.
Meanwhile, the borough continues to seek grants to fund the sidewalk extension, which is projected to cost $425,000 from Wayfairing Lane to Cold Spring and another $350,000 from Cold Spring to the Mary Yardley Footbridge easement.
Colletti formally announced that the borough has been awarded a second grant to be used toward the project - a Small Water and Sewer grant for $211,989 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
With the two grants in place, the borough still needs to come up with another $176,000 to pay for extending the sidewalk to Cold Spring and another $350,000 to extend it to the Mary Yardley Footbridge easement.
Colletti said she will be asking for council’s approval in September to seek another grant that could cover the remaining cost of extending the sidewalk to Cold Spring and partially fund the extension to the easement. The grant application is due by the end of September with a decision expected early in 2021.
The borough eventually hopes to extend the sidewalk to Dolington Road.