GONE? Genovese: After Zoning Board Denies Sign Request, ‘Shake Shack Walked Away’

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Shake Shack “walked away” after the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday night denied the company’s request for larger signs at its proposed location on the Post Road, developer David Genovese said.

Shake Shack 2

Shake Shack

This Shake Shack shows the prominent sign and hamburger logo

“[T]he Zoning Board of Appeals denied our application tonight for Shake Shack’s signage program,” Genovese said in an email late Wednesday night, after the board meeting. Shake Shack was on the agenda for a public hearing to get a zoning variance for a Post Road site. Genovese is principal of Baywater Properties LLC and owner of the site through a related company.

“Shake Shack walked away,” Genovese continued. “I am in a state of shock.  Having worked on so many projects in Darien over the course of the last 15 years, I have never worked on anything which had such enormous community support.”

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Company officials had said at Planning & Zoning Commission meetings that they use large lettering on the sides of their buildings as part of their branding. Some P&Z Commission members, including Commission Chairman Susan Cameron, had objected to that.

Shake Shack 3

Shake Shack

What Shake Shack in Darien would look like from the east

Other P&Z Commission members said the question of signage was best left to the Zoning Board of Appeals. The company later revised its plans, removing some signage that wrapped around the building, but it still wanted a zoning variance for a larger sign with the restaurant name.

The Zoning Board of Appeals meeting was not recorded Wednesday night by Darien TV79 or covered by Darienite.com.

Planning & Zoning Commission members and many town residents had been very supportive, even enthusiastic about the possibility that the restaurant would come to town. The high-end fast-food chain had proposed opening a Darien site at 1340 Post Road on property where Chuck’s Steak House previously stood.

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Here’s the description of what Shake Shack wanted, from the Zoning Board of Appeals agenda for Wednesday night. The item was on the agenda for a public hearing, but the agenda stated that deliberations and votes might take place on any public hearing item. It’s unclear whether the ZBA voted on the matter or if a majority of members simply said they wouldn’t support the requested zoning variance:

Shake Shack ZBA agenda 3-24-16

 

17 thoughts on “GONE? Genovese: After Zoning Board Denies Sign Request, ‘Shake Shack Walked Away’

  1. This is ridiculous. If Darien wants to attract quality businesses where locals and commuters actually want to eat (I seriously wonder how some of the places in town stay in business, they are so mediocre and random), the P&Z commission need to welcome themselves to the 21st century. Our downtown pales in comparison to those in New Canaan, Westport and Greenwich. Let’s put old hang-ups aside and actually focus on what is best for our community, which is to be friendly to quality businesses instead of peppering our town with randomness and mediocrity (Koko’s and Panera, I’m looking at you).

    • I want to add, this is NOT to say that there aren’t great businesses in Darien — there certainly are, and we are fortunate to have them. But thinking back on all the hoops Whole Foods had to jump through to be in business here, you realize how completely out of touch the P&Z Commission is from what the community actually wants.

  2. Pingback: Both Shake Shack Applicants, Zoning Board Say the Other Side Wasn’t Co-operative | Darienite

  3. Readers should be aware that the ZBA is limited to approving variances to the P&Z legal statutes for applicants who can demonstrate a hardship that comes with the property. Just wanting a sign that is larger, internally lighted or in greater quantities than the P&Z regulations specify is NOT within the discretion of the ZBA without a demonstrated hardship.

    If a hardship is demonstrated, then the ZBA is authorized to iapprove a variance that relieves the hardship with the “minimum adjustment necessary”. If a variance for a larger than regulation sign is warranted because the legal size is too hard to be seen from the road because it is set far back from the road, then the variance will approve a sign that is large enough to be seen but no larger.

    If the applicant was not able to demonstrate a hardship, then it is up to the P & Z to consider an application to change the zoning regulations.

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  5. I’m happy about them walking! Darien is starting to turn into a homogenous strip mall like Greenwich and Westport. I worry that with every chain enterprise that arrives, fewer small businesses will survive. Kudos to the ZBA for enforcing policies that have been adopted for a good reason!

    • Suzanne, I am struggling to see how you could say that Darien is starting to turn into a homogenous strip mall like Greenwich and Westport. The only new stores that have opened over the last year or two are Kirby & Company (locally owned), Everything is Rosey (locally owned), Spree (locally owned), Everything is Rosey (locally owned), Bodega (locally owned), Folly (locally owned). In fact, I am not aware of any national chain that has opened in Darein since Whole Foods Market, which most people I speak with say has been a positive force for change in our downtown. Can you elaborate to help me understand your point-of-view?

    • Suzanne, I am struggling to see how you could say that Darien is starting to turn into a homogenous strip mall like Greenwich and Westport. The only new stores that have opened over the last year or two are Kirby & Company (locally owned), Everything is Rosey (locally owned), Spree (locally owned), Everything is Rosey (locally owned), Bodega (locally owned), Folly (locally owned). In fact, I am not aware of any national chain that has opened in Darein since Whole Foods Market, which most people I speak with say has been a positive force for change in our downtown. Can you elaborate to help me understand your point-of-view?

  6. Pingback: Shake Shack Now Faces Higher Hurdle in Darien, Even as P&Z Approves Application | Darienite

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