Many townspeople could only reminisce about the New Colony Diner since it closed a few years ago, but Monroe will soon have its own diner again. The Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously approved a special exception permit with conditions late Thursday night, paving the way for The Monroe Diner.
Andy Tsilifides, Dimitrios Alatakis and his wife Donna, all partners of the Circle Diner in Fairfield and the Sherwood Diner in Westport, plan to renovate the old diner building at 568 Main Street and to add a small addition.
The P&Z's 5-0 approval will allow those plans to move forward.
"Congratulations ladies and gentlemen. You have a new diner," P&Z Chairman Richard Zini said after the vote.
"Thank you," Donna Alatakis replied. "We'll make you proud."
P&Z Commissioner Pat O'Hara said the proposed site plan means aesthetic and safety improvements to the Route 25 corridor. He also noted that the proposal includes a new septic system that works. The previous diner had chronic problems from a failing system.
As an aside, O'Hara said he is someone who misses going to a diner after having gone to one in town for 30 years.
Trumbull-Monroe Health District approval will be needed before a building permit may be issued.
Prior to the Planning & Zoning decision, the Inland Wetlands Commission granted its approval.
Lois Spence, a member of the Inland Wetlands Commission, was present at the P&Z hearing in the Town Council Chambers of Town Hall Thursday night. Speaking as an individual citizen, she praised Bill Carboni of Spath-Bjorklund & Associates Inc., the engineering firm hired by the applicants, for "bringing in low impact procedures."
Spence said, "I think this is wonderful. And I know everyone in Monroe is dying to get a diner."
The P&Z approval was with conditions. The most significant one was the requirement that the applicants work with Town Engineer Scott Schatzlein on having some kind of passageway to allow pedestrians to walk in front of the property along Main Street without going into the parking lot.
Zini had pointed out that the Town Plan of Conservation & Development calls for sidewalks along Main Street.
Unlike the New Colony Diner, which consisted only of a building and a parking lot, The Monroe Diner will have landscaping with evergreens and ornamentals. The front entrance on the south-west part of the property will be eliminated, leaving one two-way entrance on the north part and another off of Verna Road, a configuration P&Z commissioners found to be safer.