Design Review Board recommends approval of Cornell’s outdoor expansion

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During its meeting Tuesday night, the Design Review Board unanimously recommended approval of the minor site plan modification for an outdoor seating expansion behind Cornell’s Irish Pub.

The Hayden Rowe Street establishment next will appear before the Planning Board on March 1 for further discussion and a likely vote. The matter had come before the Planning Board at its previous meeting on Feb. 8, but no representative from Cornell’s was on hand to answer questions and some information on the application was lacking, according to principal planner John Gelcich.

Cornell’s already received approval from the Select Board at its Jan. 26 meeting. Last year, the Select Board OK’d a temporary outdoor expansion in an effort to help Cornell’s — as well as other local restaurants — deal with the COVID-19 health restrictions on indoor dining.

“We don’t know how long this COVID is going to last, and I just think people still feel very comfortable going outside,” Cornell’s co-owner Ellen Scanlon told the Design Review Board. “So we’re hoping by the time spring starts we will have this new fencing up and people will be able to enjoy it.”

Scanlon explained that the plan is to remove the temporary barriers and replace them with 6-foot high permanent white PVC fencing, similar to the fencing already in place at a section that already is approved for permanent outdoor dining. There will be three fire exit doors with alarms, she said, and string lighting installed on the inside of the new fence, facing inward.

Due to a reorganization of the parking area that included line striping, Scanlon said no spaces will be lost with the expansion. She also noted that concrete bollards will be installed in front of every parking spot around the new fencing as a safety precaution.

Scanlon said the expansion is especially important because she isn’t sure how long it will take for the masses to return to public dining.

“Even hopefully if this virus goes away soon and people get someway back to normal, it’s going to be a long time before people feel really comfortable indoors, in confined spaces,” she said. “It’s lovely to give somebody [a choice]: Would you like indoors our outdoors? It’s up to them, then. If they want to sit in the hot sun, good luck to them.”

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