The owner of a downtown building that he wants to lease to a restaurant is trying again to win approval for a rooftop patio at the busy intersection.
Owner John Karageorge says he needs the patio to attract a "quality" client to the building that once housed Las Vetas Lounge at Post Road and Sanford Street, but he also wants to reduce the required number of parking spaces.
The Town Plan and Zoning Commission held a public hearing Tuesday on the application for the revamped 1460-1462 Post Road building. The hearing almost ended before it began when Karageorge's lawyer, James Walsh, was late to arrive.
The hearing was completed, but no vote was taken.
Earlier this year, the Zoning Board of Appeals had denied a similar application from Karageorge to open a rooftop, open-air dining area, which would have required variances to both setbacks and parking space requirements.
The only opposition at Tuesday's TPZ hearing on the revised application came from Joel Green, the lawyer who represents E& F Associates, LLC, owner of the building next to Karageorge's. Frank D. Raviola is identified as the principal in E&F, and two lawsuits have been filed by E&F regarding the approval to add a second story to Karageorge's building and a setback waiver.
"This opposition has been going on with anything my client tried to do," Walsh told the TPZ. "There is bad blood between these people."
Walsh was not only seeking approval for the rooftop patio, but also for a reduction of 12 parking spaces that would be required for the additional outdoor tables. The main restaurant has 600 feet of patron floor area, which requires 15 parking spaces. Those spaces were obtained through waivers granted previously.
"Where are the patrons going to park?" asked TPZ Vice Chairman Seth Baratz. "I'm very concerned about a restaurant with no parking."
Walsh argued that they would do what patrons of many downtown restaurants do -- park on the street or in nearby municipal lots like those at Sherman Green and the train station.
But Green contended that in this case, any parking waivers would have to come from the Zoning Board of Appeals. The only instance in which the TPZ could waive the number of required spaces, he said, is when there are multiple tenants with shared parking. The regulations, Green said, also require a parking study from the applicant.
"There is no on-site parking so it cannot be reduced," Green said. He also said since the applicant has not provided the needed parking data, "it cannot and really should not be granted."
Commission members were also concerned about a retail building on Sanford Street, behind the proposed restaurant, for which Karageorge received zoning approval to switch from retail to restaurant use.
Walsh said at this time, there are no plans to go forward with that option. He said the second floor addition and the basement will provide the needed storage and office space for the envisioned restaurant.
He said his client needs the outdoor patio would improved chances of leasing to a quality restaurant rather than a more intensive use such as a coffee shop or convenience store.
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