2012-12-13 / Front Page

Trat renovations approved

Board mulls whether new facade matches streetscape

Discussion over plans to renovate the Trattoria Simpatico building dominated the Planning Commission’s Dec. 5 meeting. The new owner said he would like to revamp the building, including adding handicapped bathrooms and rearranging the bar area.

Architect Bill Burgin began the night by giving a brief presentation. It included building plans and renderings of the finished product. He then answered several technical questions from the commission.

Burgin explained that the remodeling project would occur in two phases. Phase one would include reworking the interior. Handicapped bathrooms would be added and serving space would be created. The first phase would also involve construction of a dining porch and enclosing the outdoor serving space. These changes are expected by the summer.

Phase two would include reworking Trattoria’s outdoor tent area, screening in the outdoor bar, and increasing the amount of storage space. The construction would potentially block the cut through between Narragansett Avenue and the recreation center. It would also add a bike rack.

It was stressed that there will be no increase in the number of seats or the need for more parking spaces.

After the presentation, the commission took some issue with the proposed new facade. The railings fronting the restaurant will be redone and replaced with similar railings made from pipes or wires.

Several members of the commission worried that the facade would fail to jell with the rest of the village, where wood shingles dominate the streetscape. The proposed railings would be see-though. Commissioner Rosemary Enright worried the “uncharacteristic rail- ings” would be “unfitting” in the village.

Commission member Duncan Pendlebury added that the Bay View Hotel dominates the streetscape downtown and Trattoria’s proposed facade seemed out of line.

However, Commissioner Michael Smith disagreed that the shingle style dominated Narragansett Avenue. He argued that the proposed facade was in harmony with the image of the village.

As the discussion wore on, both Chairman Michael Swistak and Town Planner Lisa Bryer emphasized that it was not the board’s goal to add oversight on potential construction projects.

After discussing the proposed facade, the commission briefly covered a few questions about signage. It was agreed Trattoria would scale back the sign in front of its parking lot to increase visibility for safety reasons.

Following signage, the commission moved on to discuss the topic of parking spaces. Law requires restaurants to have one parking spot for every five seats in the restaurant. Trattoria’s has 120 seats and hence requires 24 parking spaces. Currently, the restaurant has 35 spaces available between its parking lot and through various parking agreements. It is the only restaurant in town in compliance with the parking regulation.

The commission spent a great deal of time discussing the technical aspects of Trattoria’s loading zone. The restaurant’s loading zone will essentially be the middle of its parking lot. Using that area will allow delivery trucks to pull in and turn around, eliminating the need to back onto Narragansett Avenue.

Swistak made a motion to approve Trattoria’s requests that incorporated the panel’s concerns and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Mick Cochran and passed unanimously.

Following the motion, the commission reassigned the discussion of two potential ordinance amendments to the next meeting to allow staff an opportunity to review the items further. The amendments concern accessory dwelling units and burial sites.

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