The with hopes that the neighbors and the plaza owner could come to an agreement.
Westport Planning and Zoning Director Larry Bradley acknowledged the importance of the neighbors’ concerns, but he said they are not part of the site plan standards, which was the decision on the table for the commission last Thursday night.
Bradley said that if Panera Bread complies with the standards of Westport’s regulations, the commission is obligated to approve the site plan.
Peter Romano, an engineer for Westport-based Land-Tech Consultants, presented the Panera site plan in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission. Romano explained that the lot, which consists of 382 spots, is never 100 percent full. He said that Panera would only need 24 additional parking spots, a number he believes will be easy to achieve.
During the initial Panera Bread site plan meeting, Kurt Eichhorn, of 402 Greens Farms Road, a future neighbor of Panera Bread, asked that the plaza owner install a taller, more suitable two-sided fence.
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Eichhorn expressed concern about the additional 40 employees who will be coming and going between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., and most likely parking behind the plaza. He believes the lights and noise from the additional cars and delivery trucks will actually hurt the value of his home. Eichhorn said a new fence would eliminate some of the noise and light pollution that disrupts his neighborhood. He suggested that the commission temporarily put off their decision in order for the neighbors and the landowner to be able to work out an agreement.
During their conversations, Romano said that the neighbors requested that garbage trucks come at a more reasonable hour, specifically between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Romano also noted that the plaza owner agreed to fix any part of the current fence that does not completely block light from the neighbors' yards.
Panera plans to open its doors in October where the former True Grace nail salon used to operate in the plaza at 1850 Post Road East. The plaza, located on the Westport-Fairfield town line, is currently home to , Home Goods and .