Hearings on fast-food, bakery proposals

Planning officials and city councilors have made plans to discuss proposals that would allow certain casual restaurants and bakeries to open downtown. Both proposals were sponsored by Ward 9 Councilor Robert Logan, who represents a section of the commercial area, and were presented to the council this month. One proposal would allow fast-food establishments to open on Moody and Main streets with a special permit that would be granted by the City Council. Councilors emphasized that their aim is to attract upscale cafés, while deterring national chains. However, some officials said they worried the permitting process would prove too expensive and onerous for small business owners, and that national fast-food franchises could potentially open under the proposal. Logan also introduced a zoning amendment that would allow retail bakeries to open downtown. That proposal received general support from officials but also evoked worry about fast-food chains. Currently, authorities interpret bakeries to fall under the definition of fast food establishments, which are prohibited downtown. But Logan’s proposal would allow bakeries, defined as primarily selling “food products such as cakes, breads, cookies, pies, pastries, and similar goods” baked on-site to be consumed off-site, to open without a special permit. Officials are slated to discuss both proposals at the Planning Board’s meeting on Nov. 6, and during the council’s Ordinance and Rules Committee meeting on Nov. 18, before putting them before the full City Council for a vote.