Three Restaurants Off the Ave Want to Remove Parking Spots to Facilitate Outdoor Dining

At the Aug 13 Board of Selectmen meeting, attorneys Tom and John Heagney represented three restaurants on West Elm Street – Aux Delices, Elm Street Oyster House and Myx Kitchen – who have outdoor dining on the sidewalk, but seek to spread their tables out to the area used for parking spots.

Tom Heagney, representing longtime restaurants Aux Delices and Elm Street Oyster House, said the sidewalk is not quite wide enough to allow for social distancing.

He said that both restaurants are in the same zone as Greenwich Avenue, the CGB zone, so they are not required to provide parking, and that they propose to define the dining space by using jersey barriers.

“We propose to take the four parking spaces (two in front of each restaurant), and use the types of barriers that have been successful on Greenwich Ave in a similar fashion – both during the day and evening,” he said. “It would not impact the roadway on West Elm Street because they’re parallel, not angled spaces.”

John Heagney said his client, Myx Kitchen, is outside the the CGB zone, and already provides a parking lot. His client want the town to remove three parking spaces outside their building at 19 West Elm.

Cars in metered spots in front of Elm Street Oyster House and Aux Delices, including cars parked in the loading zone. Photo: Leslie Yager

First Selectmen Fred Camillo was encouraging, noting that if the parking spots were removed, patrons could use the nearby town hall parking lot.

“We’re looking at other ways to replace and increase parking with other ideas,” Camillo said. “We’re endeavoring to get money for a trolley to get people off the Avenue and provide transportation.”

Mr. Camillo said he didn’t think there were jersey barriers available from DPW, but Mr. Heagney said his client was willing to purchase their own.

Heagney also said the loading zone closer to Greenwich Ave would not be impacted, and that there was also metered parking around the corner on Benedict Place.

“How come there’s lawyers involved?” Selectwoman Lauren Rabin asked. “How is this process different than the nodes on Greenwich Avenue? That was handled through the planning and zoning process.”

“I didn’t know of a different way of bringing it forward. As the parking authority we thought you were the ones to bring this forward,” Heagney said. “I suspect others will want to do it – such as on Lewis Street. I think it benefits the community as a whole to be able to provide this amenity.”

The Selectmen confirmed that as the town’s traffic authority, they are in charge of parking. Planning & Zoning is in charge of permitting outdoor dining.

By voting to approve, they said the applicants would next approach P&Z.

“I think it’s a terrific spot for it,” Camillo said, adding that time was of the essence.

Mr. Heagney noted that indoor dining, permitted by Goveror Lamont’s recent executive order, had not translated into people wanting to dine indoors.

Shoppers line up outside stores on Greenwich Ave. Aug 16, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

LuAnn Bellantoni from Parking Services said her department’s primary concern was not generating revenue, but rather addressing safety concerns, including that emergency vehicles be able to drive through, that the tables not encroach onto the roadway, and that room is provided for pedestrians.

“Check all those boxes and go through planning and zoning. Then it comes to us for parking enforcement,” she said.

“It is impactful as far as deliveries on the Avenue and residents on Greenwich Avenue,” Bellantoni added. “We’re getting a lot of complaints from residents on the Ave – and retailers as well. That’s another discussion for another time if you’re thinking of making this on permanent basis.”

Mr. Camillo said he’d favor the outdoor dining continue for at least 7-8 months annually.

“It’s saved restaurants,” he said. “And also added a different feel to the town. Having grown up here, it hasn’t ever felt like this before. It’s very popular. I’ll certainly push for this to be permanent.”

Greenwich Police Sergeant Patrick Smyth asked the attorneys their plans for parking for Uber Eats drivers and people picking up takeout.

Tom Heagney said the parking spots in front of the restaurants are constantly full, and that Uber Eats drivers either pull into the Bank of America parking lot or into the driveway to 200 Greenwich Ave.

John Heagney said Uber Eats and take out were not an issue for Myx Kitchen. “We have to provide parking for our operations. We have parking on site, behind the building and permanent leased spaces on Benedict Court.”

Selectperson Oberlander asked whether permission had been sought from 200 Greenwich Ave and Bank of America for use of their lots, and Mr. Heagney said it had not been sought formally.

“The bank does supervise their parking to make sure people are using it for the bank, except for the evening when it’s used by the general neighborhood. It’s proved not to be an issue,” he said, adding that the lot at 200 Greenwich Ave charges a fee and is open to the public.

“We could reach out,” he offered. “It’s not been an issue. Most activity is in the evening when the bank is closed. During the day, most of the people coming to these restaurants walk.”

“Time is of the essence,” Camillo said. “You don’t want to lose two weeks here. I think it’s a good idea. I’m willing to vote on it now.”

The selectmen agreed the application did not require a second read.

Ms Oberlander asked the applicant to reach out to the neighbors to coordinate pickups, and work with Greenwich Police and Parking Services. “Safety is paramount,” she said. “It’s a busy intersection.”

The Selectmen voted unanimously to approve the requests.

Cars parked in metered spots in front of Elm Street Oyster House on West Elm Street. Photo: Leslie Yager
Cars parked in metered spots in front of Myx Kitchen on West Elm Street. Photo: Leslie Yager
Outdoor dining on West Elm Street leaves no room for pedestrians to pass with social distancing. Photo: Leslie Yager
Cars parked in loading zone at corner of West Elm Street and Greenwich Ave. Photo: Leslie Yager
Cars in metered spots in front of Elm Street Oyster House and Aux Delices, including cars parked in the loading zone. Photo: Leslie Yager
Greenwich Avenue at the corner of Elm Street. Photo: Leslie Yager