The proposal by Archie Moore's Bar and Restaurant to add outdoor dining in a part of a downtown walkway named in honor of jewelry store owners killed in February 2005 was approved Thursday by a unanimous vote by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Harold Fischel, who owns the 48 Sanford St. building that houses Archie Moore's, told ZBA members that First Selectman Michael Tetreau and Mark Barnhart, director of the town's Office of Community & Economic Development, supported the plan to place three tables and 12 chairs in half the width of Donnelly Walk where it meets Sanford Street. The walkway, at its other end, meets Unquowa Road.
Fischel added that the requested waiver of six required parking spaces for the outdoor dining area is not significant in the context of the 200 nearby parking spaces that will be freed for use by downtown shoppers on the south side of the Fairfield Railroad Station because of new commuter parking at the Fairfield Metro train station.
Fischel read a letter from Tetreau to the Zoning Board of Appeals, part of which read: "Based on our conversation I had a chance to talk with Eric Donnelly, a representative for the Donnelly family, and get his views on the expansion of outdoor dining in the area. He relayed to me that he was pleased and supportive of an initiative like this that would bring more people and more life into the memorial walkway. I am comfortable saying that as described in concept, the family is supportive of your plans."
During a break in the meeting caused by a fire alarm, which caused Sullivan-Independence Hall to be evacuated, Tetreau said in the talk he had "explained that the thought was this was an opportunity to bring more people out to Donnelly Walk, to make it more visible, and help keep their memory more alive in our town." The family, according to the first selectman, was "very supportive of the concept and said they were very pleased we reached out to them for their feedback before moving ahead."
Barnhart's letter, which Fischel read to the ZBA, says his office worked with Fischel Properties and Archie Moore's to create Donnelly Walk after Tim and Kim Donnelly were slain in their downtown jewelry store on Feb. 2, 2005. Barnhart says in his letter that the town obtained a perpetual easement from Fischel Properties to create the memorial walkway, which connects Sanford Street to Unquowa Road, and that Fischel Properties installed decorative fencing and additional light fixtures for the walkway.
"Donnelly Walk was envisioned and designed with the intent of providing an area that could accommodate outdoor/seasonal dining. Cafe Lola took advantage of that opportunity a few years back, and was granted a parking variance to do so. I am delighted that Archie Moore's has now opted to follow suit, in that these areas help contribute to a visually interesting streetscape and a vibrant and dynamic downtown," Barnhart's letter says. "The revised lay-out appears reasonable in size, and maintains adequate space for passersby to maneuver past the seating enclosure."
Fischel said the walkway also has the support of nearby restaurateurs, and a petition filed with the application included signatures from representatives of Captain's Pizza, the Nauti Dolphin, Las Vetas Lounge, Colony Grill and Old Post Tavern. A representative from the Fairfield Theatre Co., which is next to Archie Moore's, also signed.
ZBA Chairman Kevin Coyne said an earlier plan by Archie Moore's envisioned six tables and 24 seats, with a requested waiver of 12 required parking spaces, so the application presented Thursday afternoon was half that size. "I think this is reasonable," he said.