A popular Walkerville dining establishment will be permitted to permanently operate a back-alley patio after city council on Monday overrode earlier objections from the administration and voted to approve the restaurant’s application.
Representatives of Vito’s Pizzeria sought to allay council’s concerns about commercial creep into a residential neighborhood by agreeing to several conditions such as closing the patio by 11 pm, not playing amplified music and having lighting that was unobtrusive.
The new patio would be to the rear of 642 Windermere Rd. and behind Vito’s existing business along the alley that connects Chilver and Windermere roads.
“It’s the type of use of public space that you see in vibrant cities,” said Ward 4 Coun. Chris Holt. “This is a use of space for people rather than for the storage of automobiles.”
In addition to a number of conditions to be imposed by the licensing commission, restaurant owner Vito Maggio submitted a letter agreeing to the proposed restrictions.
The patio abuts residences and the alley behind the restaurant at 1731 Wyandotte St. E. The facility will put up fencing barriers and landscaping for definition, separation from potential alley traffic and to reduce noise.
Windermere resident Lynne Pearlman, whose home abuts the alley near the restaurant, urged council to reject the application at Monday’s meeting, citing noise, light pollution, privacy and parking concerns and the continued commercial creep into residential Walkerville.
“I’m already dealing with the patrons of the restaurant being loud and drunk leaving the restaurant,” Pearlman said.
“I like and appreciate all the shops and restaurants on Wyandotte, I just don’t appreciate the commercial creep close to where I’m living. My back deck abuts that alley. It’s already stressful.”
Citing many of those same concerns, the city administration recommended council reject the application for a permanent patio.
City planner Thom Hunt also cautioned council that it didn’t have the authority to dictate to the licensing committee should potential problems pop up.
“The issue I hope council sees, in approving the zoning change, you do so without assurance the licensing committee makes the decisions deemed compatible with what you desire,” Hunt said.
Ward 6 Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac was the lone vote against the application, stating she didn’t feel comfortable enough that the conditions would be guaranteed to protect residents.
Perhaps buoyed by the popularity of downtown’s refurbished Art Alley, the rest of the council saw the change as an opportunity to create new spaces in the city.
Ward 3 Coun. Rino Bortolin said he expected councilors serving on the licensing commission would quickly deal with any issues that may arise or any violation of the terms set out by council.
Three of the five members on the commission are councilors — Ed Sleiman, Gary Kaschak and Fabio Constante.
“It’s using public space to serve the public in a way that also ensures we’re not regularly impacting the folks who live in the surrounding area,” Ward 10 Coun. Jim Morrison said.