New York ruling paves way for some outdoor dining sheds to become permanent

Darla Miles Image
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
NY Appeals Court rules in favor of outdoor dining sheds in NYC
Community groups opposed to NYC's outdoor dining went to court to force the city to conduct a review, but an appellate court refused. Darla Miles has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- There was a victory this week for restaurants and the city in the ongoing controversy over sidewalk dining.

Some community groups opposed to outdoor dining went to court to force the city to conduct an environment impact review, but an appellate court refused.

However, opponents say their fight is not over.

One block in the West Village has examples of the best of outdoor dining - with custom tenting and individual booths - and the worst of it - with toilet paper and gallons of used fryer grease just sitting on the street.

They are two very clear examples of both sides of the outdoor dining debate.

"A lot of people in the city are now saying this is a green light to make permanent open restaurants, it is nothing of the kind, said plaintiff Leslie Clark.

Clark is one of more than two dozen New Yorkers who sued the city earlier this year and won - compelling it to conduct an environment impact review before the council passes proposed legislation to make outdoor or roadway dining permanent.

But Tuesday, a New York Appeals Court ruled: "Given the remaining legislative and administrative steps that must be taken by the City before the permanent outdoor dining program is finalized....dismissed as not ripe for judicial review."

"The appellate division said we agree with you," Clark said. "They brought it at the wrong time and they made no comment what on the environment impact aspect of it. So that means legally that the court left the door for us to come back."

Mayor Eric Adams celebrated the decision in a tweet saying, "This ruling is great news for New York City's comeback"

It's also good news for the NYC Hospitality Alliance. Executive Director Andrew Rigie issued a statement saying, "We are pleased that the Appellate Division unanimously dismissed the lawsuit."

As for what permanent outdoor dining might look like, it could be closed during winter months, prohibited in historic districts, and the DOT has said sheds would be replaced by road barriers and umbrellas.

"They could be subject to more approvals so it's consistent throughout the city," said Jerry Chang, owner of Red Feather Restaurant.

Restaurants that have benefited from the program say it shouldn't be condemned because of a few bad apples.

"Restaurant and bars that have consistent complaints, you know need to address that issue," Chang said.

Clark is frustrated with the noise, rodents and trash that has come with outdoor dining.

"The court told us to wait, so we're waiting," Clark said. "And when they try to make this permanent, we'll be back."

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