Reopening, support for businesses, among topics at Operations Planning Committee

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Town of Darien seal

Town of Darien seal

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Outdoor dining stipulations made up a large portion of the conversation at the May 20 Operations Planning Committee.

According to Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Steve Olvany, in order to have a liquor permit for outdoor sales, three town official sign offs are needed: the Planning & Zoning director, health department, and fire department.

For more, read here.

In addition, those who want to put a large tent up in their parking lot behind their store will need approval from planning & zoning, building and fire departments.

“We allow these restaurants to have the tents up through Labor Day,” Olvany said. “It’s called a temporary tent permit for temporary outdoor seating.”

The tent that is set up must be “of substance,” he added. “We would not want it to get caught in the wind during a July storm and move some place.”

In addition, the tables have to be spaced six feet apart with no more than five chairs at a table.

“It has taken about three passes for most restaurants to get their plan right, to get all the approvals approved,” he added.

The stores are only allowed to have 50 percent capacity inside.

“Everyone on the P&Z commission wants to do everything for our retail and restaurants so they can survive,” Olvany said. “We need a lot of tenants and landlords to work in conjunction with each other.”

A large sidewalk sale, which will involve closing off streets, is being considered in town for a tentative date of Father’s Day weekend, June 20.

The Boy Scouts have requested that their annual tag sale be moved to another date. They hope it can be held in the fall.

“Hopefully, that gets back on the docket,” Olvany said. “That is a big fundraiser for the Boy Scouts.”

Support for business community

The town of Darien and the Darien Chamber of Commerce has been working very closely with the local business community. They have collaborated and put out a small business survey. If anyone is interested to see it, contact Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson.

The town is working with the Fairfield County Score Group and the Darien Men’s Association.

The Score group, which can be reached by visiting, is available for one on one mentoring to any business owner in Darien.

In addition, the town has the service of Christine Sullivan, who is the small business association representative for the community.

“She has worked hand in hand with some of our local business owners on many of the assistance programs, the small business loans and the PPP loans,” Stevenson said. “They have really supported our local businesses from our end and also some of our commercial tenants and landlords in town have done an awesome job keeping their businesses afloat.”

Ox Ridge project update

After completing presentations on storm water management, the public hearing for the Ox Ridge Elementary School building project should be closed, according to Olvany.

For more, read here.

To-date, the Planning & Zoning Commission has had approximately 4.5 hours worth of public hearing time on the proposed/replacement Ox Ridge School Project application, excluding the pre-application general meeting presentation by the project team a month ago, he said.

Final budget vote

The final vote will be made in regard to the 2020-2021 Darien budget at 8 p.m. on Monday, June 8, at the RTM virtual meeting.

Capital project balances

For a Board of Finance summer project, members will be taking a look at the various balances they have on the balance sheet for the town that are for specific capital projects that may still be in process but may be rapt up.

When they look at this every year, they look at all the funds that have been set up and set aside to support all kinds of projects in town.

“Every fall, we pull up a list of those projects for which there’s been no activity for the last 18 months,” Chairman Jon Zagrodzky said. “We talk to the leaders who are in charge of those budgets and see what the status of the project is.”

The board might be able to free up those funds to include them in their fund balance reserves, according to Zagrodzky.

“That’s a process we normally undertake in the fall but given the current situation, taking a look at those now to see what funds we could free up, to have in our reserves, seems like a good idea.”

Credit card fees, user fees, convenience fees

The town experiences nontrivial charges for the use of credit cards, according to Zagrodzky.

There has been more payment by credit card than has been the case historically, “so the town bears an increasingly large cost with regard to the transactions that are conducted by credit card,” he said.

While the town charges a fee for large transactions like tax payments, for many, smaller transactions, the town bears the cost of those payments.

The town is considering the following options for those transactions:

 Should we tack on an extra cost for all transactions that are conducted by credit card?

 Should we bill the cost of transactions of credit cards into the price per services?

 What should we do to make the town more open to other forms of payment like Venmo and PayPal, and other electronic ways of paying?

Zagrodzky said he would like to add a policy that would govern the use of credit cards “and try to get a consistent approach to using credit cards across all town departments.”

Real estate picking up

In light of the pandemic, many people have been rethinking how they want to live, according to Stevenson.

“The high density living environment has gone out of favor, so real estate is beginning to really pick up here in Darien,” she said. “Darien is so well poised with our redevelopment activities, the support that we have here in town from our nonprofits in our business sector and local government, our excellent schools — is all going to come together to really help boast a wonderful resurgence of our local economy as we begin to work our way out of the COVID pandemic crisis.”

State budget update

State Rep. Terrie Wood provided projected budget numbers for fiscal year 2020 and 2021.

 The deficit for fiscal year 2020 is going to be 958 million dollars.

 The deficit for fiscal year 2021 about 1.8 billion dollars.

 The state’s rainy day fund is 2.5 billion dollars.

“It’s going to be a very, very challenging couple of years for the budget,” Wood said.

Boston Consulting Group has now taken the place of Reopen Connecticut. They’ll be advising now on what the rest of the reopening looks like. For any questions, contact Wood by visiting

Watch the Operations Planning Committee meeting on Darien TV/79.