HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A proposed brewery in Hamden is facing numerous lawsuits, but also overwhelming support from residents.
Whitney Brewery has proposed to take over the former Mickey’s Restaurant in downtown Hamden, but some nearby businesses are fighting the plan.
In addition to the owners of Eli’s Restaurant, two other lawsuits have been filed challenging the Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval of the project.
Tri-star Realty, which owns Eli’s and Roishi, along with another restaurant, argues the proposal violates local zoning regulations because it doesn’t have enough parking.
Eli’s on Whitney owner Rick Ciardiello said many people in the neighborhood are appealing the town’s approved plan. Ciardiello said that the approval process wasn’t properly followed.
This week Chris Atchley will drop off a petition with nearly 2,000 signatures to Eli’s Restaurant Group in hopes it will drop its multiple lawsuit against the proposed new brewery.
Chris Atchley, who started the petition, said he wants to print it out so there is a stack of signatures.
“It really just seems like whatever the motivation is, it doesn’t take into consideration the people of Hamden and the town,” Atchley said.
The brewery would replace the space left vacant by Mickey’s in 2021.
Peter Vouras, which owns the next-door restaurant Freskos, said the brewery would be great for businesses.
“I think it’s going to bring visibility to the area, a little vibrancy,” Vouras said. “Mickey’s went out almost two-and-a-half years ago so it’s been kind of dead.”
Kevin Fitzsimmons, a part of the duo opening Whitney Brewery, said the space downtown will have a rooftop beer garden, outdoor seating and games, a restaurant and a tasting room. The pair also own Dockside Brewery in Milford.
The lawsuits, however, claim there is not enough parking in the area. One of the lawsuits says the brewery is not in “general harmony” with the surrounding neighborhood. Fitzsimmons and the town disagree.
“Parking, we have 880 spots approved,” Fitzsimmons said. “The lawsuit’s unfortunate. Like I said, we look forward to being good neighbors downtown.”
Hamden Mayor Lauren Garrett said the brewery would help develop the downtown area.
“Our planning and zoning commission is very thorough and I’m sure that our process will hold up in court,” she said.
Fitzsimmons said the property’s landlord is mainly dealing with the lawsuit.
He hopes to open the brewery in October.