Thursday, January 12, 2012

Eleemosynary And Philanthropic Special Exception Approved For Broad Street

The Planning and Zoning Commission last night approved an application to open an office of the Catholic Charities at 151 Broad Street, adjacent to Saint Sebastian. It also mandated a developer from 20 years ago to follow through on his commitments, discussed the Titanium Nightclub, and several other matters.

Catholic Social Work Office Adjacent To St. Sebastian
Marek Kukulka, representing the Diocese of Norwich, explained that the office would provide services to people in need of help. He said that clients would come to the office to meet with a social worker who would provide counseling and help. Kukulka said that since other agencies, such as St. Vincent de Paul, provided food, the focus of the office would be on providing assistance with utilities, transportation, and medicine. He anticipated that most of the activities in the office would be during workday hours, but they would offer some evening classes to help people qualify for Federal assistance.

One of the requirements for an eleemosynary and philanthropic special exception is that the side yard setback be the same as the height of the largest building in the complex. The spire of St. Sebastian Church makes this rather impractical, and so the Catholic Charities requires not only Planning and Zoning approval for the special exception, but also Zoning Board of Appeals approval for the variance on the side yard setback.

The Commission unanimously approved the special exception and recommended to the ZBA that it rapidly approve the variance.

Honoring An Old Farms Commitment
The developer of the Old Farm subdivision, off of Atkins Street, applied for release of a $10,000 cash bond that the city has kept since the development was built in 1988. As a condition of subdivision approval, the developer promised to plant two street-side trees on every lot, the $10,000 cash bond was to be released when the trees were planted.

A representative of the developer explained to the Commission that because some of the lots were sold and developed by private individuals, the trees were never planted. He said it was too late to do it now, and it was not necessary because none of the property owners had ever asked the developer to have trees planted.

The Commission would brook no excuses. Holding that the developer had made a commitment to the city that the properties would have trees, it directed the developer to offer to plant two trees on the property of each of the current owners.

Titanium Nightclub Concerns
Fazzino brought up the melée which occurred late New Years Eve outside of the Titanium nightclub. Titanium operates under a special exception for a nightclub, approved by the Commissioners less than a year ago. The approval was based to a large extent on the excellent reputation of the Bramato family, which owns and operates the successful Esca Wine Bar and Titanium. Gaetano Bramato told the commission in his application last March, "'Titanium' is going to be set up as a Fusion Café and Lounge that will offer light fare and casual Entertainment... Our lounge area will be set up with comfortable lounge sofas and chairs with café style tables where guests can sit back and relax ..."

Fazzino said, "I'm quite embarrassed as a commissioner." He siad that commissioners had not been informed about what was going on with Titanium now, "We've been left in the dark."

Deputy Planner Michiel Wackers promised the commissioners that they would be kept fully informed, and that the city was doing everything it could to ensure that Titanium would either operate according to the conditions in the special exception, or would not operate at all.

Other Business
The Commission scheduled the application for a 32-home subdivision on South Main Street for a public hearing on January 25th. This is an application originally scheduled for a hearing in September. The applicant is Linda Wilson, wife of land use attorney Ralph Wilson.

The Commission began a discussion of a change in their bylaws. Chairman Richard Pelletier proposed that the Commission elect officers only once each two-year term, instead of every year. Commissioner Dan Russo supported the change, while Commissioners Les Adams and Nick Fazzino said they wanted to consider the implications before voting. All agreed to take the matter up at a future meeting.

1 comment:

Michiel Wackers said...


Thank you for your piece on last night's P&Z meeting. You provided a very accurate interpretation of the events that unfolded.

You correctly quoted me regarding the the titatium situation, but I would like to take an opportunity to expand on the possible outcomes in dealing with the violations that have come to light.

My comments about either complying or closing would be the two ends of the spectrum of options. I would hope they comply with their orginial presented approval. However, they have the option to request a modification to their approval or appeal our violation either through ZBA or the court system.

If they request a modification, PZ could require a public hearing and collect evidences that could become the basis of any findings as outlined in section 44.04 of the Zoning Code. These findings would then be the basis of any decision in favor or against the requested modification.

Titatium's original approval with their conditions can be found at:

Thank you for your dedication to informing the public.

Michiel Wackers, AICP
Deputy Director of Planning, Conservation and Development