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Fairfield TPZ takes a pass on Hail Mary’s sports bar

November 15, 2017

FAIRFIELD — It was ruled an incomplete play Tuesday when the Town Plan and Zoning Commission denied a zone change for a Black Rock Turnpike sports bar called Hail Mary’s.

The zone change was sought for 6,348 square feet of the 2.26 acres at 2500 Black Rock Turnpike. Some of the property, which formerly housed a bank, is zoned residential. ACM Realty wanted to change that small slice to designed commercial district in order to accommodate needed parking.

“It’s a great idea to have a restaurant, a sports place,” Vice Chairman Gerry Alessi said. “The problem is where the place is.”

Alessi said the property, across from the Country Cow, is a on a difficult stretch of busy thoroughfare. He also pointed out that there is a study going on right now about possible improvements for the road.

“Is there a need for the change? I don’t think so,” Alessi said. “Hopefully, they can reconfigure the building so they can open there.”

Commissioner Meg Francis said while she thinks the plan is well-intentioned, she could not vote to change a residential zone “that neighbors have come to rely on to secure their property values.” She said there are other spots on Black Rock Turnpike that could house the sports bar.

Thomas Noonan said There is still part of the property, pointed out Commissioner Thomas Noonan, that is already zoned commercial that could be used to redesign or reconfigure the parking.

“The full area of the commercial zone is not being used,” he added.

The sports bar is the brainchild of Mary Walsh, a Westport mom of three whose daughters played soccer here, and Jake Salpietro, an assistant volunteer baseball coach at Fairfield University. They said they modeled their restaurant after the Colony Grill to appeal to families.

“It’s a very sympathetic application,” Chairman Matthew Wagner said, adding that a restaurant could still be opened at the property. But, he said, because previous businesses at the site — a bank and a veterinarian — didn’t succeed is not a reason to adopt an expansion of the commercial zone.

Once the commission denied the zone change, it was left with no choice but to deny the special permit application. Because the zone change was not adopted, the special permit application did not meet the underlying zone regulations.