During presentations at Monday’s Hightstown Borough Council meeting, Peter Adamo, owner of Molto Bene Caffé, asked for council approval and a right of access agreement to set up outdoor seating along with temporary fencing in front of Molto Bene.
Adamo said that he hoped the outdoor seating would be beneficial to the downtown and to his business by making both look nicer and more appealing while adding dimension to the downtown.
Mayor Steve Kirson and council members asked questions of Adamo about the permanency of the temporary fencing and seating. The mayor also asked how the fencing would stay stationary and during what times of the year the seating would be set up.
Adamo explained that the fencing would attach to concrete pads with removable stakes. The concrete pads would be raised about 2 inches off the ground and would not be permanently affixed to the sidewalk. The seating would remain in front of Molto Bene from early spring until late fall.
Council President Isabel McGinty suggested that Adamo make a similar presentation to the Planning Board at their next meeting on April 11 to smooth the process of getting approved for the outdoor seating. She explained that this would give the council time to go through the contract and to resolve any issues that may arise.
Adamo asked for a more immediate answer. Since the request is outside of the code, the planning board would not be able to make a decision on the matter and with warmer weather approaching, Adamo was ready to make use of his outdoor seating which he has already purchased.
“I’m trying to get this done for the good of my business, I like Hightstown, I want to stay in Hightstown,” Adamo said.
McGinty then pointed out that the discussion about Molto Bene was on the agenda for the evening as a presentation and not a resolution. She indicated that the process could go forward smoothly but the council would need time to make sure that everything was in place.
“I would like to agree to a good idea but tonight there are perhaps small roadblocks,” McGinty said.
Attorney for the Borough, Fred Raffetto, said that while the approval of the planning board isn’t necessary, they would need time to read through the contract and may need to get approval from the New Jersey Department of Transportation since Molto Bene sits on a state road.
McGinty said that the presentation to the planning board is not meant to be an impediment, but simply to make them aware and to smooth the process for the future.
Mayor Kirson explained that over the next two weeks they could clarify any concerns that may come up in the contract. The council expressed that they hoped there would be an answer on the contractual terms and from NJDOT by the end of the week.
The resolution for the temporary outdoor seating at Molto Bene Caffé will be on the agenda for the Borough Council meeting April 20.
During the portion of the meeting reserved for public comment, many residents expressed support for Molto Bene and asked the council to let them set up their outdoor seating. They expressed hope that adding outdoor seating to Molto Bene would help to make Hightstown’s downtown thrive.