UPDATE: On April 7, 2022, the Newtown Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) approved Piccolo's application with the condition that it must remain "outdoor seating." In other words, the outdoor area cannot morph into de facto permanent seating. The trees (bradford pears) will be removed and replaced with other native trees. ZHB members did not think that parking would be an issue on that side of the Newtown Shopping Center parking lot.
Piccolo Trattoria is currently operating a restaurant use in a 4,146 sq.ft. tenant space located at 32-34 West Road in the Newtown Shopping Center. At the March 15, 2022, Planning Commission meeting, the owner (Fahmi Elabed) – represented by Joseph Blackburn, Partner with Wisler Pearlstine, LLP –presented a plan for proposed construction of a 2,212 sq.ft. covered outdoor dining area with 112 seats (see figures below).
This is just the first step that is required seeking variances for this conditional use, which needs to be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors at its March 23, 2022, meeting and ultimately approved (or denied) the Zoning Hearing Board on April 7, 2022.
The outdoor seating area will be connected to the 2,000 sq.ft. adjacent tenant space of 30 West Road (former "Dogs & Cats Rule" pet store) where Piccolo Trattoria has received permission from the landlord to expand it's current operation (which expansion will be the subject of a separate, subsequent, conditional use application).
What Variances Are Required?
Mr. Elabed recognized that in order to remain viable in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants effectively require an outdoor seating component/option. In order to do this Piccolo Trattoria requires a variance to permit a 59.87% impervious coverage ratio. It should be noted that this represents a mere 0.22% increase over what is presently permitted. Also required is a variance to permit the property owner to continue to maintain 953 parking spaces, of which 169 will remain "held in reserve", whereas the patio addition would otherwise require the construction of an additional 15 parking spaces.
The members of the Planning Commission asked several questions mostly concerned with parking spaces and the removal and relocation of two trees (see Site Plan). The applicant noted that there has always been more than adequate parking at the location of Piccolo Trattoria. This nevertheless could be a sticking point given the increased number of potential customers due to the expansion of the restaurant plus patio seating. While the 2,212 sq.ft. patio could seat 112 additional customers, the application did not indicate how many additional seats would be available in the planned 2,000 sq.ft. expansion.
One Commission member asked if the trees could remain in place. Mr. DuMack, however, indicated that this would be problematic – perhaps because the trees would interfere with the patio covering.
Posted on 17 Mar 2022, 01:59 - Category: Development