Zoners approve Loaves & Fishes

The Loaves & Fishes Hospitality House is on track for a new home.

After two applications to the New Milford Zoning Commission and a Zoning Board of Appeals variance, the local soup kitchen’s application before the zoners has been approved.

The commission decided, 4-1, Tuesday to approve, with conditions, construction of a 3,826-square foot, two-story building at 25 Bridge Street to be employed as a limited-use hospitality house.

The dissenting vote was cast by zoning alternate Richard Saitta.

Sattia wanted to approve the project with a condition that Loaves & Fishes return to the commission for reassessment and reapproval in a year’s time.

Zoning chairman Bill Taylor noted would be against state statute and against the way the commission treats all applicants.

“I think Loaves & Fishes provides a worthy service, but I think this is a bad location for it,” Saitta said.

After the meeting, Lisa Martin, the Loaves & Fishes president, was elated.

“This is wonderful news,” Martin said. “It’s been such a long time coming. We realize this is only the first step in a very long process. But it’s a big step.”

Attorney Neil Marcus had appealed the Zoning Commission’s first denial of the project in 2014, taking it to Superior Court in Danbury as a civil suit. The court gave Marcus an extension on reaching a decision until after a new application could be submitted and pass zoning.

Seeing what the next legal step is Martin’s plan.

The sale of the 25 Bridge Street property can now take place. the transaction from owner Sarah Straub to Loaves & Fishes has been contingent on zoners’ approval of the project.

Once Loaves & Fishes takes ownership of the parcel, the old Straub Plumbing building at the north end of the property will be demolished, making room for parking places.

At that point, Martin said, fundraising can resume.

“We are so grateful for the support of everyone who stood by us over the last two years as we worked toward this,” Martin said.

The new hospitality house at 25 Bridge St. will include a ground floor with a kitchen, dining room, storage area, conference room and mechanical room.

The main level will feature offices, a conference room, laundry room and restrooms.; 203-731-3352