Eli’s Tavern comes closer to getting outdoor patio

Eli’s Tavern at 21 Daniel Street is moving closer to getting a lease to open an outdoor patio on city-owned land at 25-27 River St. The Board of Aldermen is expected to vote on the matter at its Nov. 10 meeting.

At its Oct. 18 meeting, the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) unanimously approved a Conn. General Statutes 8-24 referral for a request from Eli’s owner Richard Ciardiello for a lease of city-owned land, in combination with his land, to establish an outdoor patio in a location where one had previously been approved.

The P&Z had previously rejected a different application at its Aug. 4, 2015 meeting, following a recommendation from city trial counsel Matthew Woods, who told the board at the time that all they had before them was a concept, but not an actual lease. Woods further added that in 2015, a majority of the neighbors were opposed to the patio. A divided Board of Aldermen rejected the idea at its Aug. 10, 2015 meeting.

At the Oct. 18 P&Z meeting, Woods spoke in favor of granting a five-year lease to Daniel Street LLC, the legal owner of Eli’s Tavern, saying that Ciardiello had submitted a proposed lease, which details the land and how it would be used. He said, “All the immediate neighbors are not opposed.”

Woods said the lease calls for having a 10-foot by 51-foot concrete patio with fencing that would be used for outdoor dining. The patio would be a non-smoking area where outdoor live music would not be permitted.

Banners, lights or signs may not be placed on the fence. An awning could be installed above the patio. The patio would close at 10 p.m. Eli’s would have to maintain the planting beds, grass and trees by the patio.

The lease is not assignable to another owner, and should Ciardiello sell the business, the lease would automatically terminate. If the city sells its land, the lease may terminate within 90 days of that sale. If Ciardiello obstructs the area or fails to maintain it, the city may terminate the lease within 10 days.

Woods said the only missing item from the lease was the rental fee. He said a past lease for the patio was $2,500 per year.

“The purpose is not to make money for the city,” said Woods. “The purpose is to enhance the downtown area.”

An 8-24 referral 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. The item was not a public hearing, so there was no opportunity for public input.

In an 8-24 referral, the P&Z acts in an advisory role. Since the P&Z voted for the proposal, the matter requires a simple majority vote of the aldermen to pass.