Dockside brewery gets unanimous approval this week

A brewery and restaurant is planned for 40 Bridgeport Ave., following unanimous Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) approval at its June 19 meeting.

The brewpub and restaurant called Dockside at Village Marina received a special permit, site plan approval, and coastal area management site plan approval. The approval includes the condition that outdoor music and outdoor speakers will not be permitted.

The applicant, Dockside Brewery LLC, lists Robert H. Chicoine Jr. of Armonk, N.Y., Brian Bier of Milford, and Joseph Tatroe of Ansonia, as members.

The 2.16-acre site is located within the Boating Business District (BB) zone at the corner of Bridgeport Avenue and Riverside Drive. As part of the change in use, boat storage would no longer take place on the property, but would be located at an unspecified off-site location.

Attorney John Knuff said his clients have three goals: “To become a true destination for boaters and families in a manner that is fully respectful of their neighbors,” to be an important component of economic development efforts in Devon, and “to insure that the marina is a viable, long term use despite the challenges of the current boating market.”

Knuff said the owners made “very substantial investments” to replace the existing docks. Of the 65 existing slips, 20 will be converted to transient slips to encourage boaters from the Long Island Sound to visit Milford.

“The whole goal is to portray a fun, lively relaxing destination for friends and family,” said Knuff.

The restaurant and brewpub would be located in the larger building at 40 Bridgeport Ave., along with the marina office, and a caretaker apartment. The smaller building at 38 Bridgeport Ave., will house an existing bait shop and the marina support facility.

The larger building will be renovated to accommodate the brewpub, restaurant, and caretaker’s apartment. Knuff said outdoor decks and interior seating would offer Housatonic River views. The house at 44-50 Bridgeport Ave. will be removed and the space used as a parking lot.

Knuff said the unpaved lot at 44-50 does not filter stormwater and will be replaced by a paved parking lot with a “state of the art” stormwater management system, along with landscaping, and decorative lighting.

At the back will be a lawn area available for patrons and the public alike and the parking lot will have spaces allocated for public access, he said.

Knuff said the restaurant would close by 10 p.m. most nights and at 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. There will be no outdoor speakers or outdoor music.

“We know there is a marina across the river that frequently upsets many of our neighbors,” said Knuff. “That will not be the case with our proposed use.”

Knuff said this facility is not a bar or tavern, and will serve only beer and wine with no hard liquor being sold. In addition to selling its own beer that is brewed onsite, the restaurant will sell other brands. He said all beer brewed onsite will be sold at the restaurant, and will not be sold elsewhere.

The Inland-Wetland Agency (IWA) unanimously approved storm water drainage improvements at its April 4 meeting, allowing Dockside Brewery LLC to reconstruct the parking lot and install an underground storm water drainage system at 38-40 and 44-50 Bridgeport Ave.

There are no inland-wetlands on the site, but a portion of the parking lot is located within the 100-foot upland review area from the Housatonic River. No filling or dredging is planned on the property.

Architect John Wicko said the project would have 112 parking spaces, with nine designated as tandem spaces for employees.

Wicko said the caretaker apartment would be created in the existing attic at 40 Bridgeport Ave. Mechanical equipment will be placed on the rooftop. The kitchen will make pizza and other small items.

According to the plans, the brewery would be 1,289 square feet, while the restaurant would be 2,723 square feet on the first floor.  The rear deck would have 1,932 square feet in two levels with 30 seats on the lower deck and 56 seats on the upper deck. The 608 square foot front patio would have 24 seats.

About 30 people attended the public hearing, with 10 people commenting on the application. Eight spoke in favor, with one other person expressing concern about potential noise from the site, and another person concerned about plans for a riverboat to sell ice cream, an idea which was dropped from the final proposal.

Frank Basil, owner of the Bridge House Restaurant, 49 Bridgeport Ave., said the brewpub would be a gateway to Milford.

“The consensus is that it’s a great thing, something that many of our regulars, our guests and the community is looking for,” said Basil.

Vincent Ditchkus, 171 Housatonic Drive, said the Devon Revitalization Committee has worked for 10 to 12 years to bring more businesses to Milford. He said the marina has been struggling for 30 years. Ditchkus said the restaurant and brewery would be a destination to attract people to Milford.

Robert Masud, 18 Intervale Parkway, said he lives about 50 yards from the proposed development. He said his residential neighborhood has been adversely affected by some commercial developments along Bridgeport Avenue that have created increased traffic noise, light, and parking issues.

“At all times a balance must be struck between residential neighborhoods and commercial development,” said Masud.

Board members John Grant and Robert Satti expressed concern about the effect the project would have on traffic in the area, saying Bridgeport Avenue gets congested. They asked if a traffic study had been done.

“That area is a bottleneck most of the day,” said Satti.

In response, Knuff said the peak hours for the restaurant would tend to be later than rush hour. He said traffic studies are not required for most projects this size.

Board Chairman Jim Quish said he represents the area, and said the additional traffic from the project would be “drops in the bucket” that would not change the culture of Devon.

“I think it’s a wonderful project,” said Quish.

McNeiece Enterprises LLC owns the 0.73-acre property at 38-40 Bridgeport Ave. and the 1.43-acre property at 44-50 Bridgeport Ave. Mark McNeiece of Trumbull is listed as member of the LLC.

The P&Z approved an application for Tribus Beer at 100 Raton Drive at its Dec. 19, 2017 meeting. According to its Facebook page, the company received a building permit on April 13, 2018, and hopes to open by the end of July.

Milford Point Brewing at 230 Woodmont Road opened in April.