BALLSTON SPA–Outdoor dining will now be a permanent fixture in the Village of Ballston Spa. The Board of Trustees voted Monday to amend village law to permanently allow restaurants, cafes and other establishments to offer sidewalk service six months of the year.
The resolution, which passed unanimously, allows restaurants, cafes, retail stores and other establishments to apply for annual permits with the village to offer outdoor service between April 1 and Oct. 31.
Like many municipalities, Ballston Spa began allowing restaurants and other businesses to convert sidewalk space into outdoor dining and service areas during the pandemic as a way to help them comply with social distancing requirements and other health measures.
The outdoor service law will pertain to at least 20 businesses in the village, according to Mayor Frank Rossi Jr. Establishments that have liquor licenses will be able to serve alcohol outdoors, according to the mayor.
After Monday’s vote, the village’s office will be sending the law to the New York Department of State for approval, upon which time the village will begin accepting applications from restaurants for temporary approval for outdoor dining, according to Village Attorney Karla Williams Buettner. She said the process may take up to three weeks.
Ballston Spa’s move is just the latest by an upstate New York municipality to permanently embrace a pandemic-era outdoor service rule. In Albany, the Common Council voted last month to make expanded outdoor dining permanent. And the City of Saratoga Springs announced in March that it will be extending seasonal outdoor dining for the next three years. In addition, the Saratoga Springs City Council on Tuesday will be discussing and voting on an ordinance that would allow alcohol sales at approved temporary outdoor seating locations through 2024.
“It just brings a vibrancy to the street that I think people like and appreciate right now,” said Saratoga Springs Commissioner of Accounts Dillon Moran, who added that there is a public health argument for outdoor dining, as well as an economic argument.
For what it’s worth, Saratoga Springs’ March 2022 sales tax revenue is up more than 20% from March 2021, an increase of over $200,000, according to the city’s Commissioner of Finance Minita Sanghvi. The 2022 sales tax for the first three months of the year is 16% higher than the same period in 2021–amounting to an increase of approximately $2.87 million compared to first quarter sales tax revenue from last year, according to Sanghvi.
Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.