Battle continues over outdoor patio for Eli's Tavern

A contingent of people attended Monday night’s Board of Aldermen’s meeting to speak against an outdoor patio at Eli’s Tavern in downtown Milford. Eli’s hopes to lease a piece of city-owned land next to the restaurant and put an outdoor patio with about eight tables there.
Opponents included neighbors who said the music from Eli’s is too loud. They also said they treasure the bit of green space between Eli’s and Café Atlantique.
Eli’s owner Richard Ciardiello and James Amann, who is consulting him on the matter, were at the meeting too, expecting that the aldermen might discuss the patio during the meeting.
The matter was not on the agenda, but Alderman Brian Bier (R) tried to add it as new business. He wanted the board to approve the same land lease that the previous owner had, thus allowing Eli’s to establish an outdoor patio.
But the matter is already scheduled for the Planning and Zoning meeting Tuesday night (tonight), so the patio was not added to the aldermen’s agenda. According to city officials, a land lease issue has to go to P&Z and then to the Board of Aldermen.
The outdoor patio will be presented tonight as an 8-24 referral, which is the administrative procedure by which the P&Z reviews any use of city land before moving to the Board of Aldermen for a final decision.
In an 8-24 referral, the P&Z acts in an advisory role. If the P&Z supports the request, the matter only requires a simple majority by the Board of Aldermen to be approved. If the P&Z votes negatively on the request, then the matter would require a two-thirds vote of the aldermen to pass. Either way, the item would move to the aldermen for consideration at their Sept. 14 meeting.
Ciardiello has been pursuing the patio lease to use as an outdoor dining area since the P&Z originally approved the restaurant at its Aug. 6, 2013 meeting.
The building was formerly occupied by 21 Daniel Street, a nightclub owned by Richard Conine, owner of the Stonebridge Restaurant, who sold the property to Ciardiello in 2012 for $700,000.
Conine received P&Z support for a five-year renewable patio lease at its July 5, 2005 meeting, which was approved by the Board of Aldermen at the request of then Mayor James Richetelli.
Conine paid the $2,500 lease for several years, but never constructed the patio on the city owned land between Eli’s and Café Atlantique.
At that 2005 meeting, Richetelli said, “It’s consistent with the plan for downtown Milford. We are encouraging outdoor cafés and pedestrian walkways.”
Café Atlantique has its own lease with the city for another portion of the land. At the Aug. 6, 2013 meeting, the owner of Café Atlantique, Tina Roberts, said she was concerned about how a patio at Eli’s might affect her business, particularly if people smoked there.
According to state statute, smoking is permitted in outside seating areas at a restaurant where at least 75% is non smoking. But Ciardiello said smoking is not an issue with his application: He said he does not intend to have a smoking section among the approximately eight tables that he wants to put on an outdoor patio.
“This would be dining only, no smoking,” he said.