HUDSON — City Council on Tuesday discussed multiple ways to help businesses during the coronavirus crisis.
Council discussed measures to relax some code regulations regarding signage, permit expirations, outdoor sales/dining, and the possibility of creating a designated outdoor refreshment area. Final decisions will be made at the council meeting on May 19. Items considered included:
• The city would install picnic benches on the First & Main green, Merino green, and a few other locations to allow restaurant takeout customers to enjoy their food while still social distancing. Customers would be requested to clean up the area when they are finished and use installed trash cans to deposit their trash. Allowances for expanded outdoor, waiter service from restaurants are also being studied.
• Relaxing enforcement of signage regulations, including temporary window and ground signs. The time frame for the relaxed enforcement was not finalized, but will be set to allow for business accommodations as reopening occurs.
• To help individuals and businesses that experienced construction delays due to the coronavirus shutdowns, council discussed possibly extending permit deadlines through Dec. 31 to eliminate the need to reapply for a permit that might have lapsed during the shutdown.
• Council also discussed creating a small business loan program using the city’s Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) to help small businesses reopen. The city is researching the requirements for a loan program. Tuesday’s discussion brought up issues that could limit the number of businesses that could apply, and council members expressed concerns about the effectiveness of the program with those limitations. The loan program will again be discussed at the council meeting on May 19.
• On another subject, council continued its discussion about establishing railroad quiet zones, including looking at options and costs for redesigning crossings to meet quiet zone requirements. The cost for crossing improvements at Hines Hill and Stow Road was estimated at $125,000. Private crossings, such as the one on Barlow Road at Little Tikes, were also discussed. Council agreed to begin the application process with Norfolk Southern Railroad with final determination about costs and the project being made next year.