By a unanimous vote, Darien’s Planning & Zoning Commission has approved amendments to the town’s zone regulations and zoning map.

The vote took place at the commission’s public hearing on July 1. The approved amendments will go into effect Aug. 11.

One amendment places the Municipal Use (MU) overlay zone on 13 properties in town, which allows for the potential for greater flexibility in future development regarding any possible additions or redevelopment.

The amendment to the town’s business and office zone regulations consolidates and combines existing zoning districts to eliminate redundancies and allow for more efficient administration of the regulations by the Planning & Zoning Commission.

The map and regulation amendments are consistent with the Town Plan of Conservation and Development, according to Jeremy Ginsberg, director of Darien’s Planning & Zoning Department.

Convenience food service

At the hearing, members reviewed the amendment that pertains to convenience food service, for which the current limit is eight indoor seats.

“For some restaurants which have lots of indoor space, it became a difficult enforcement issue,” Ginsberg said.

MU overlay zone

In regard to the MU zone amendment, “that was where the most significant concerns and comments came,” Ginsberg said.

The Planning & Zoning Commission received letters from neighbors with concerns “that the setbacks and coverage and height can change,” Ginsberg said.

He said that “those uses, which are now permitted uses, would become special permit uses, and it would be at the discretion of the town, or the fire departments, whether they even wish to implement those.”

A special permit use would require a hearing to allow for public comment. The hearing would give the public an opportunity to object to anything.

A public hearing would probably come in under the process only if applications needed flexibility on building height, building coverage, or setbacks, according to Ginsberg.

In the amendment that pertains to eliminating hotels, motels, and inns as permitted uses within the town. After some deliberation, the commission decided to leave the existing regulations alone for the time being. “That’s a matter for another day,” Ginsberg said.

Service Business (SB) zone

One of the main issues that came up during the public hearing process, according to Ginsberg, was the concern about the 1,200-square-foot indoor space devoted to customer tables and seating areas in the SB zone.

“The commission is not modifying or eliminating that restriction,” he said.

“Out of all of these [amendments], that was by far the most contentious out of all these,” Planning & Zoning Chairman John Sini said.

Rezoned properties

In regard to the feedback received during the public hearing process, of those properties to be rezoned, “some properties had no comment, some had opposition, some had just people in favor, and some had [been] adopted, in part, and withdrawn, in part,” Ginsberg said.

Zoning books for the town will be reprinted and the zoning map will be changed to reflect the new amendments.

The text and zoning map amendments are on file and available for review in the town clerk’s office, the planning and zoning office, and online at darienct.gov/pzc.