Dining is once again al fresco at The Chelsea restaurant on Unquowa Place.

The eatery had its permit for outdoor tables yanked in May by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission when it was discovered the restaurant owners had never been issued a lease from the town for use of a portion of the public sidewalk to set put tables and chairs. The Chelsea first began using the sidewalk space last July, and was approved for outdoor dining by the TPZ after representing that a lease had been signed with the town.

After receiving a letter of intent from the town that it would enter into a lease with The Chelsea, the TPZ once again approved the patio dining at a meeting earlier this month.

"The contract was signed the next day," First Selectman Michael Tetreau said, and the rent has been paid in full not only for this summer, but for last summer as well when the outdoor dining area was set out without authorization.

The Chelsea is charged $150 a month under its lease, and has paid the town $1,650 for four months in 2012 and seven months this year. The lease also requires that the restaurant maintain worker's compensation insurance and comprehensive commercial general liability insurance.

The town has leases with two other downtown restaurants -- Centro and the Old Post Tavern -- that use public sidewalks under town control .

Because of the problems with The Chelsea, Tetreau and Town Attorney Stanton Lesser met with the TPZ to hammer out a process which will be followed in the future.

Now, a restaurant owner must first secure a letter of intent from the town before applying to the TPZ for approval for an outdoor patio. If the TPZ approves the application, then a lease would be negotiated, incorporating conditions, if any, imposed by the zoning board.

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