Wilton planning commission discusses outdoor dining

Staff at Marly's restaurant in Wilton Center discuss reopening plans.

Staff at Marly’s restaurant in Wilton Center discuss reopening plans.

Patricia Gay /Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — During its meeting on May 11, the Planning and Zoning Commission discussed outdoor dining, which will be allowed beginning May 20.

Town Planner Michael Wrinn discussed the special permit use restaurants would have to apply for in order to have outdoor dining. Normally, the businesses would have to go through a public hearing that could take a turnaround of anywhere of six to eight weeks before they get approved.

Wrinn noted that, short of amending current zoning regulations, the preferred option would be an executive directive, which he noted is anticipated in the very near future. This would override existing town zoning regulations, including parking requirements.

“We have a lot of restaurants calling and asking us what they can do,” said Wrinn. “We’re not concerned about parking with the executive order in place.”

Also, part of the discussion concerned restaurants possibly using parking spaces in front of their establishments, in addition to available sidewalk space, in order to keep up with social distancing requirements. This would also help offset the anticipated loss of interior dining.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea to have outdoor dining,” said Wrinn. “The easier we can make it for anyone, I don’t have a problem with that.”

“For those of us who stay in Wilton over the summer months, it’s a little bit of a ghost town, so I think the idea that parking becomes this overriding issue, I think it’s something we have to consider,” Chairman Rick Tomasetti said. “There are so many times you go into a restaurant in July you look around and it’s like, ‘where did everybody go,’ so I think to the extent we can provide another avenue for our citizenry to get out and enjoy themselves and also add vibrancy, especially to Wilton Center.”

The overall opinion of the commission was positive and optimistic.

Safety considerations, landlord cooperation, and Liquor Commission involvement and compliance, would have to be taken into consideration as well.

It was further noted that applicants would need to submit a plan, to-scale, confirming compliance with all necessary requirements.

The commission also agreed that it should consider tackling such dining options on a more long-term basis as well.