NORWALK, Conn. — Submarine sandwich seller Jimmy John’s has been green-lighted to open on Westport Avenue in Norwalk, overcoming the Zoning Commission’s concerns about traffic by hashing out the issues with the Department of Transportation, Mobility and Parking (TMP).
“The concerns we expressed at the last meeting still exist, but this approval addresses them and gives the city the opportunity to make sure that this doesn’t become an attractive nuisance,” Zoning Commission Chairman Lou Schulman said.
M.F. DiScala, owner of 295 Westport Ave., has agreed to series of conditions aimed at avoiding the nightmare seen on the other side of town where drivers waiting to get to the Chick-Fil-a drive-thru jammed up Connecticut Avenue.
If, within the first two years the franchise is open, folks wind up lining up on the road, DiScala will close the easterly entrance to the shopping center so that it is used only as an exit, and apply for State approval to reconfigure the access to be one-lane, exit only. Drivers will have to que up in front of the plaza.
- The applicant will pay for Norwalk Police to handle traffic control between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for the first 30 days of operation. If it proves that traffic issues develop outside of that time period, the applicant will pay for additional police and whatever other measures may be necessary.
- If it appears that police are not needed in that time period, the applicant may request that the TMP Director approve the elimination of that requirement.
- If instead a traffic nightmare develops, the TMP director may demand that entrance through the easterly access drive be eliminated entirely, within the first two years of operation. Additional traffic controls will be required until that’s done.
- The applicant will pay a bond equal to 150% of the cost of the driveway work, to be held for two years.
“The long and the short of it is that staff has been concerned about the queue distance between the drive thru and Westport Avenue,” Planning and Zoning Director Steven Kleppin said at Thursday’s Zoning Commission meeting. “So the idea is that we understand when there’s a new business in town, especially a restaurant, it’s something shiny and new. And people like to go to that and gravitate towards it. So we anticipate that there’s definitely going to be some initial increased traffic where we hope there, there’s measures in place to deal with that.”
And there’s good news for Westport Avenue pedestrians: the deal includes a crosswalk for Wolfpit Avenue. As part of a public/private partnership, the concrete sidewalk will be extended to meet Wolfpit, replacing the asphalt that’s there now.
“We’ll partner with the applicant on improving pedestrian connectivity to the site, and which helps, hopefully helps the business as well as helps residents,” Kleppin said.
M.F. DiScala will “pay for our proportionate share of the sidewalk,” DiScala Chief Financial Officer Alan Webber said.
The vote to approve was unanimous. Schulman said, “Staff has done a fine job here of addressing our concerns and working, working with the applicant to get this project going forward.”
Updated, 1:46 p.m.: Corrections made regarding closing the easterly access.