“Would you like a table indoors or outside?”

That’s the question Wilton restaurant-goers will get to continue answering, now that the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) has extended outdoor dining regulations that were enacted in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

P&Z says the latest resolution — which was unanimously approved by the Commission on May 8 — is “consistent with the goal of furthering a strong community and allowing maximum opportunity for Wilton restaurants and businesses to succeed during the pandemic recovery in the Town of Wilton.”

The Commission’s action pertained to three existing sections of Wilton’s zoning regulations:

  • Section 29-6.C.5.c, Permitted Accessory Uses in the Wilton Center Zone
  • Section 29-6.A.4.f, Permitted Accessory Uses in the Design Retail Business zone
  • Section 29-6.B.4.d, Permitted Accessory Uses in the General Business Zone

The resolution codifies the following amendment:

“Any restaurant operating with an approved temporary outdoor dining permit issued by the Town of Wilton as of the effective date of this amendment may continue to operate and use the area approved and as shown in that permit provided an additional application shall be made to the Planning and Zoning Officer for any expansion of a previously approved outdoor dining.”

The regulation also makes it clear that restaurants that do not currently have a permit must apply for one.

“Any new temporary outdoor dining will require a new application and permit in order to operate.”

As commissioners considered the amendment, Director of Planning and Land Use Management/Town Planner Michael Wrinn commented that the move to allow more outside dining options during the pandemic did not result in any negative consequences.

“What we’re trying to do, very simply, is just allow the outdoor dining to continue. We’ve been very successful [with] very few problems,” Wrinn said. “We’d like to continue it, just the way it’s been.”

He added that the Commission still had discretion to make changes to the regulations in the future.

Two residents spoke at the May 8 public hearing on the matter, both in support of it — though one suggested that P&Z also consider design guidelines for the outdoor dining areas.