Zoning officer lays out options available to Noank restaurant owner in seating dispute

Groton — The owner of Ford’s Lobsters has options if it wishes to challenge the “cease and desist” order that limits its seating, Noank Zoning Officer William Mulholland said Tuesday.

Owner Kristian Nyman was cited on July 24 with the order for expanding the seating at the Noank restaurant on Riverview Avenue beyond the approved 34 seats allowed by its permit.

Ford’s contains more than 34 seats and has put out lawn chairs on the southwestern end of the property that serve as a waiting area, according to the order. Visitors sit on the Adirondack chairs along the property overlooking Fishers Island Sound to take in the view while waiting for a table.

Mulholland said he visited the restaurant and found Nyman “in violation of his approval.”

“As a result of these findings, you are here by ordered to comply with your special permit approval and to cease and desist the unauthorized expansions and to remove any and all seating in excess of the approved 34 seats, including the lawn chairs in the south western area within 10 days receipt of this order,” the order directs.

But Mulholland said he received a message Tuesday from Nyman’s lawyer, Bernard A. Pellegrino of New Haven, concerning Ford’s.

The restaurant owner has three options if it wishes to challenge the order, Mulholland said.

First, Nyman could appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals and challenge the finding that the restaurant seating violates the permit. Second, he could ask the Zoning Board of Appeals for a “variance” of zoning regulations to allow more seating.

Finally, Nyman could go back to the Zoning Commission and try to change his permit to expand the seating, Mulholland said.

Ford’s was granted two special permits on Nov. 22, 2011, to install handicapped-accessible bathrooms with showers, and to run food service operation with no more than 34 seats at Ford’s Lobster and Haring’s Marine.

Mulholland said he inspected Ford’s for compliance with zoning rules after a neighbor complained about the intensity of the business this spring. Noank Zoning Commission Chairman Peter DeBiasi also asked him to look into it six or seven weeks ago, Mulholland said.

dstraszheim@theday.com

Twitter: @DStraszheim 

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