Parking problems to ease by West Main Street restaurant?

A couple crosses W. Main St. on Monday afternoon in front of Farm Country Kitchen. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)
A couple crosses W. Main St. on Monday afternoon in front of Farm Country Kitchen. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Backing out of their parking spaces on West Main Street can get tricky for some Farm Country Kitchen customers.

In fact, according to one Planning Board member, parking has become so dangerous there that he’d feel guilty if someone got injured while cars try to maneuver around one another at the popular eatery — which he feels is bound to happen if nothing changes.

So, the Planning Board is moving to change it.

The attorney for Farm Country Kitchen, the restaurant that town officials say has been operating without the proper approvals since at least 2011, agreed at last Thursdays’ town Planning Board meeting to consider installing curbing and landscaping to prevent cars from parking on the West Main Street lot by the restaurant.

The move came as it appeared a majority of the Planning Board members were prepared to vote down the restaurant’s site plan proposal, in part due to safety concerns about cars backing up into oncoming traffic on West Main Street.

Restaurant owner Tom and Maria Carson also purchased a half-acre lot on Swezey Avenue and agreed to offer a valet service to an from the lot.

However, customers for the restaurant still park along West Main Street.

Planning Board member Ed Densieski urged the board to make a decision.

“I think we should take an action, whether it’s denial or whatever,” he said.

“They are operating without site plan approval. Every other business has to get one. Years and years have gone on, and I am truly worried about the public safety…I am going to feel guilty if somebody gets hit there and I didn’t take any action.”

“I agree with all of Ed’s comments,” board member Stan Carey said.

“One of the things we keep saying is, ‘how to do we keep people from parking in this area?’,” said Planning Board member George Nunnaro. “Signs don’t do it. People don’t pay attention to signs.”

He suggested putting in a curb and landscaping.

“No one is going to run over a tree or a bush,” he said.

“I’m in agreement with that,” said Peter Danowski, the attorney for Farm Country Kitchen, who said they would do whatever the Planning Board asked. He said he would get an engineer to draw up plans for it so it could be discussed at a future meeting.

Mr. Danowksi added that state Department of Transportation approval would also be needed for the proposed curbing. 

Prior to this concession, it appeared the board was planning to vote on the application, and it didn’t sound like it would be approved.

Other issues still unresolved include where the valet parking would be located, and where the handicapped parking would be located, and whether it could be located in the new off-site lot, which Mr. Carson purchased for $250,000.

The town took Farm Country Kitchen to court in 2012, claiming it only had permission for a take-out restaurant and was operating as a sit-down restaurant which didn’t have adequate parking.

That lawsuit is still in court, where the town’s request to shut down the eatery while the case procedes was rejected.