In its decision, released Thursday, Dec. 19, the town's Development Review Board found that the proposed Subway, which would occupy a 1,500 square foot space where the Garnet Hill retail shop used to be, fit within the town's ordinances and definitions of a "restaurant," as opposed to a "fast food restaurant."
The appeal had been filed on Oct. 11, 2013 and heard before the DRB on Nov. 6. Argiros Konstantinou of Saronis LLC filed the appeal. He recently acquired the former Friendly's restaurant adjacent to the shopping plaza where the new Subway will be opened. Saronis LLC also filed the same appeal with Act 250 environmental court.
They are able to appeal the development review board's decision at the state level within 30 days of the decision being made public.
The board's decision stated that a fast food restaurant would need to have a drive--in window and serve its food and beverages in disposable containers. Subway plans to serve its food in baskets and use formal utensils. It will not have a drive up window.
Konstantinou had maintained that Subway would constitute a fast food restaurant. The appeal also maintained that the original decision granting a change-of-use permit for the Subway, on Sept. 30, by former Zoning Administrator Lee Krohn, was invalid, since it was made "administratively" and that he did not have the authority to do so.
The DRB took no stance on this question, arguing it was beyond the scope of their authority.
But the DRB did determine the original permit granted for the Subway restaurant was in accordance with the policies and purposes of the zoning bylaws, and stated in the opinion that the appellant - Saronis LLC - had not made its case that the permit outside the boundaries set for in the town's ordinances.
"There has been no showing that the issuance of the Permit has contradicted this purpose n any way," the opinion states - referring to the encouragement of appropriate development for the growth and welfare of the town.
Saronis' appeal argued that Subway was a fast food restaurant, and not a regular restaurant. In the Nov. 6, DRB meeting, Jon Anderson, counsel for Saronis LLC, argued because customer's are served in disposable containers, the restaurant should be considered fast food. The high rate of food being ordered and carried out of the restaurant was also brought up at the hearing.
The original appeal stated, "The Decision incorrectly finds that the Applicant [Subway] is a regular restaurant, rather than a fast food restaurant." According to town zoning ordinance, fast food restaurant's are allocated more parking spaces than regular use restaurant. Saronis claimed Subway would be using more parking spaces than they were allotted.
Ed Dublois of Equinox Plaza Associates, the developers of the shopping plaza where the new Subway would be located, said they are happy with the outcome of the appeal. He said Subway has committed and pledged to adhere to town ordinances and bylaws, as stated in their permit application. Dublois said they have received overwhelming support in favor of Subway through the appeal process. "Subway provides a great service and product," he said. "There is a void in town they would be filling." He said that bringing a Subway will be beneficial to the town in general, as well as other businesses in the area. Bringing a nationally recognized restaurant will raise the profile of Equinox Plaza and bring people into town that may have not come otherwise.
"Other businesses will reap the benefits of Subway," he said. "There's a lot of discussion about [local businesses]. . . the nationals carry the mom and pops, people drop into town pursuing the nationals and they find the mom and pops [stores]."
Dublois said Subway will open soon, contingent on the Act 250 decision and if Saronis LLC decides to appeal at the state level.
Allison Hopkins, zoning administrator and planing director said while she was not involved in the appeal process from the beginning, she was glad to see the development review board help up the zoning administrator's decision. She said she the DRB made the right call.