Shelton P&Z against temporary outdoor vestibules

Photo of Brian Gioiele
The Spotted Horse Tavern in Shelton.

The Spotted Horse Tavern in Shelton.

Contributed photo

Restaurants and other businesses looking to use temporary outdoor vestibules to quell the chill blowing in their front doors will have to rethink that plan.

The Planning and Zoning Commission has been unified in its objections to the structures. Most recently, the commission panned one that was installed then removed from the front door area of Spotted Horse Tavern on Commerce Drive.

“Any kind of tack-on does not come along aesthetically,” said zoning consultant Anthony Panico, “and if we allow this in one location, it will happen in a lot of other locations. It is just not a good solution.”

Peter Mennona and Mark Murphy of Spotted Horse appeared before the commission Dec. 10, seeking approval for a temporary vestibule at its front door. The owners had put one in place not long ago but immediately removed it when informed that the installation required commission approval.

“I apologize,” said Mennona told the group. “We did not know we needed to go to P and Z for a temporary vestibule.”

After seeing photographs of the temporary vestibule, commission members agreed it was aesthetically unappealing. The structure covered most of the sidewalk in front of the restaurant’s entrance.

The vestibules are used to block wind and protect customers from the cold temperatures, Mennona and Murphy said.

“Our restaurant sits on top of the hill, so the wind comes howling in,” said Mennona, adding that the space near the front door at Spotted Horse gets cold and patrons would most likely leave before being seated if they had to wait outside.

Commissioners were not only unhappy with the look of the Spotted Horse outdoor vestibule but also the fact it covered most the sidewalk. The vestibule had entrances on both sides — so people could walk through — but the commissioners felt that most people would simply walk around it into the parking lot.

“I do not want to see the sidewalk blocked at all,” said commissioner Jimmy Tickey. “If the vestibule was more shallow, maybe wider, doors on both sides so the sidewalk was still passable, I’d look at it. But as is, I would not support it.”

“We are thinking about the service for those customers who do not want to sit by the door,” said Mennona, adding that the vestibule is for only three months a year. “Without (a temporary outdoor vestibule), we have loss of revenue because if we have a full restaurant and attempt to sit them there without the vestibule, they could choose to leave.”

“This looks terrible,” said commissioner Elaine Matto. “A bunch of those all around would not look good.”

Commission Chair Virginia Harger said her concern was that every business in a similar situation would install them and it would “look terrible.

“I understand the investment you have made here, and we appreciate the fact you were willing to come to Shelton and open an establishment here, but it is the kind of thing that is not appropriate,” added Harger.

After hearing the commission’s disapproval, the owners withdrew the application and said they would research installing an interior vestibule.

In other business, Harger was unanimously re-elected as chairman, with Anthony Pogoda elected vice chair and Matto as secretary.