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A Positive Sign for the Monroe Diner

The Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance for a stand-alone sign for the Monroe Diner, which is shooting for a fall opening.

Many residents are eagerly anticipating the opening of the Monroe Diner at 568 Main Street, but visions of cheese fries and gravy and omelets at any time of the day will have to wait — at least a little longer.

Donna Alatakis, whose family is renovating the building that once housed the New Colony Diner, is predicting an Oct. 1 opening.

"I get a lot of comments around town," she said with a smile. "I think everyone's excited. We're excited to be here and finally open."

Alatakis' family also owns the Circle Diner on the Post Road in Fairfield and she said people there have even asked about the new Monroe diner.

The building on Main Street looks brand new but the site, which currently has a large Dumpster on it, shows evidence that more work needs to be done. Alatakis said that includes the paving of the parking lot, setting up the kitchen and hiring employees.

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On Tuesday, the stand-alone sign that will beckon drivers in from Route 25 was taken care of when the Zoning Board of Appeals approved a variance for the non conforming sign — which is larger than town regulations allow.

Alatakis said Monroe Diner LLC took down the old sign, which was 46-square-feet, and refurbished it. Town regulations allow signs to be 32-square-feet and no permit could be found for the old sign.

The New Colony Diner sign was blue and white with some red lettering. It had wings at the top of the sign for the business, plus two signs below for "Cocktails" and "Baking Done On Premises". Sticking out of one of the posts was an "ATM" sign.

The Monroe Diner removed the wings and the non-conforming signage below the main sign, as well as the one jutting out — effectively cleaning it up. The Monroe Diner sign is red and white and would be put back onto the old posts.

The diner also took down a 4-foot-by-4-foot non-conforming sign that was on the property.

What's Your Hardship?

When coming before the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance from town zoning regulations, the applicant must present a hardship as a reason for the request.

"Can you tell me your hardship?" board member Marion Callo asked.

Alatakis said, "The sign that was there for 30 years was the same size and we're refurbishing it and making it better and removing some of the other non-conforming signs."

Callo noted how the diner would have to get a permit if it ever wanted to add anything to the sign.

ZBA members did not ask a lot of questions during the hearing and nobody from the public spoke, so it closed after only a few minutes.

During the deliberation, Carl Ferraro said, "I don't have any issues."

Callo pointed out that if Monroe Diner LLC had found a permit for the old sign they would not even have to come before the ZBA.

Chairman James Wendt said, "I have no problem with it. The same sign was there for years. They're actually reducing a non-conforming sign and clutter."

The variance was granted by a vote of 4-1 with Paul Lisi voting no.

Alex August 09, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Glad to see it coming along, though wish it was opening sooner! Does "any time of the day" mean open 24/7?
blackie August 09, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Haha Jon!
Christine E. August 09, 2012 at 03:24 PM
That sign might be the prettiest looking thing on that stretch of Rt. 25. Much nicer than that trashy looking building next door with the overgrown grass and utility truck in the parking lot, if you ask me.
Nathan Smith August 09, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Sometimes I wonder if people say "no" just because they can. Anyway, I, for one, am looking forward to the diner. I don't like any of the diners in Newtown, and the one that was in Monroe previously was horrible. It will be nice to see another open business in Monroe. There are still too many empty spaces.
JoAnn Toth August 09, 2012 at 08:56 PM
I think Monroe needs a good ol azz kicking! For all the work these people did to create revenue in our town they nit pick about the size of a sign!!!! Not to mention that these new owners are wise enough to utilize a sign that was already there and re finished it. Oh goodness, Monroe, back off and take care of more important things . . . like Jersey Barriers in front of stores that have parking directly in front of the business so that no one gets hurt by people that choose to make their own drive through.
Christine E. August 09, 2012 at 09:25 PM
I'm sorry...it's Monroe's responsibility to pay for the protection of private property? Your beef is with landlords, not the town of Monroe.
Geezer August 10, 2012 at 12:11 PM
the old diner had a septic problem in the rear of the parking lot - sure hope that has been fixed
jim laguardia August 10, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Geezerthey have spent so much time working on that place i think they must have??
Alex August 10, 2012 at 03:10 PM
There were digging something out of the ground for awhile so I suspect that was the septic tank.
Sue Reed August 10, 2012 at 04:41 PM
There are all kinds of septic problems up and down Rt. 25 in Monroe, most notably at North Brook Condominiums. That’s why after hard rains Park officials have to close Great Hollow Lake for swimming. After heavy rains much of the sewage and effluent in the Rt. 25 corridor overflows their respective ground containment areas, then enters the water table and then flows into Great Hollow Lake. When that happens the Escherichia coli (E.coli) levels fly off the chart. This has been a well known problem for some time yet Monroe officials including First Selectman Vavrek have been reluctant to disclose this to the public. Failed septic systems in the Rt. 25 corridor also contribute greatly to polluting the Pequonnock River. Come and enjoy a swim at Great Hollow Lake in Monroe where the affluent meets the effluent.
Tman August 10, 2012 at 05:15 PM
is the owner of Dutchess complaining about the diner as well ? or is they just against McDonalds
Rt25 August 10, 2012 at 08:25 PM
So now we know why the lake is closed for swimming - isn't this a health-related problem? Has the health department been notified?
Geezer August 11, 2012 at 03:38 PM
My understanding is there are two tributaries of the Pequonnock River in Monroe. One flows south west from Cutlers Farm Road into Great Hollow Lake. It continues under Purdy Hill Road to meet up with the other tributary that flows roughly south from North Brook along Route 25. That can cause flooding behind the old diner on Route 25. In the heavy rains season, the old diner used to call in septic trucks frequently to control the septic puddles in the rear of their parking lot. But that pollution cannot affect Great Hollow because the river flows south not south east. A few years ago they suspected that the septic in Great Hollow was coming from the cluster development on Cutlers Farm Rd. This seemed logical because of the direction of the river flow. They put dye in the septic system but were never able to prove anything. However, polution from geese and other animals in the park can flow into the lake after heavy rains through the many culverts around the lake. There is also runoff from the cow pasture up the hill from the lake. The only known pollution that was proven in the area was Harshbarger Pond at the former town beach. When houses were built further up the hill on Purdy Hill Road caused septic runoff to enter the pond, the beach was permanently closed. That left the town beach on Lake Zoar as the only other beach. And its days were numbered.
JoAnn Toth August 11, 2012 at 05:44 PM
I have no "beef" at all. Just a concern for the safety of workers and customers. Landlord or Town regulations - either or - something needs to be done. I never said a thing about "pay for protection of private property"
JoAnn Toth August 11, 2012 at 05:45 PM
its been fixed.
Barney August 11, 2012 at 10:47 PM
We not be having these problems when this was an farming community. This be a good reason to vote no on every budget, just like Mr. O'Hara tell us to. My kin in the education hate group be telling me to vote no often and I be agreeing. Interlopers and education lovers move into town and cause all these shenanigans to happen. I know this to be true because I be born and raised here. My connection on the Planning and Zoning be telling me we need to keep families out of town and this be why. Look how they be destroying our farming land. Mr. Vavrek be telling me this be why we have to close more schools down to scare away education lovers and interlopers. Stand by Mr. Vavrek and Mr. O'Hara and keep Monroe for farming, not education loving. Lets all be showing our support to Mr. Vavrek. Say no to education loving. Say no to families looking to take our town over. Say Yes to people born and raised here because they be the ones who own this town. Thank you Mr. Vavrek for believing this. Thank you Mr. O'Hara for keeping the dream of a farming community become a true one. I be saluting you. We not be needing any fancy Diners either. Mr. O'Hara I be looking at you to stop these fancy businessmen from invading our natural town.
JoAnn Toth August 12, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Barney..... you are one scary dude!
jim laguardia September 20, 2012 at 01:37 PM
anyone know when it will be opening?? i have seen lights on inside and out
sally September 26, 2012 at 01:40 AM
I live in NorthBrook and the septics are checked on a regular basis and pass inspection. I agree, Monroe is a beautiful place to live and raise children, they will be the adults of tomorrw. We need to provide good education for families, new and long standing. Farmland, that was over 25 years ago. I wish all farmers well, but we have to move on and get on board with what these new times call for. I am happy to have a new diner.
Rapture October 06, 2012 at 01:09 AM
It's past Oct 1st and its not opened yet!?
JoAnn Toth October 06, 2012 at 04:02 AM
Anyone know what the heck is going on with that diner??
JoAnn Toth October 06, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Yes I would like to know when the diner will open as well.
jim laguardia October 06, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Every time it looks close something else goes on, they just put up the liquor license sign this past week.

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