Formula Business Restriction – Fairfield, CT

In 2007, the city of Fairfield enacted the following measure, which stipulates that formula businesses may not locate in neighborhood business districts unless they undergo review and obtain a special permit. The city has twelve neighborhood business districts.

Themeasure was prompted in part by a proposed Walgreens outlet in the Stratfield neighborhood. Concerned about the traffic and other impacts the store would have on the area and angry that the property owner had declined to renew the lease of a locally owned neighborhood grocery store in order to make room for Walgreens, hundreds of residents rallied against the project.

In June 2007 town officials denied Walgreens a permit to build on the grounds that it was incompatible with the neighborhood. The Walgreens fight also led the city to adopt a store size cap that limits stores and restaurants in neighborhood business districts to no more than 4,000 square feet.

Special Permit Uses

12.2In addition to the foregoing pre-existing permitted uses, the use of land, buildings and other structures shall be solely for the purposes set forth in Section 12.3 for Center Designed Business District, Section 12.4 for Designed Commercial District and Section 12.5 for Neighborhood Designed Business District. A Special Permit under Section 25.0 of the Zoning Regulations shall be required for any new construction, re-construction, exterior alterations, or addition for a use permitted in Section 12.3, 12.4 and 12.5 or for any proposed Formula Neighborhood Business as defined in Section 31.2.41 of the Zoning Regulations. Change from one permitted use to another permitted use not involving new construction, re-construction, exterior alterations, additions or a Formula Neighborhood Business shall require an application to the Commission for a Certificate of Zoning Compliance under Section 2.22 of the Zoning Regulations subject to the standards of Section 25.7.

A “Formula Neighborhood Business” means any Permitted Use in a Neighborhood Designed District pursuant to Section 12.5, other than uses permitted pursuant to Sections 12.5.10 and 12.5.13, that includes, incorporates or utilizes any two or more of the following standardized items that cause it to be substantially identical to more than five other stores, restaurants, businesses, offices or institutions regardless of ownership or location:

Astandardized array of products or merchandise, a standardized menu, uniform apparel, standardized architectural design, layout or façade, standardized décor or color scheme and/or standardized signs trademarks, service marks or logos.

(a) “Standardized” does not mean identical, but means “substantially the same.”

(b) A standardized array of products or merchandise shall be defined as 50% or more of in-stock products or merchandise from a single distributor bearing uniform markings.

(c) Uniform apparel shall be defined as standardized items of clothing worn by employees including but not limited to standardized aprons, pants, shirts, smocks or dresses, hats and pins (other than name tags) as well as standardized colors of clothing.

(d) Façade shall be defined as the face or front of a building, including awnings, looking onto a street or an open space.

(e) Décor shall be defined as the style of interior furnishings, which may include but is not limited to, style of furniture, wall coverings or permanent fixtures.

(f) Color scheme shall be defined as selection of colors used throughout, such as on the furnishings, permanent fixtures, and wall coverings, or as used on the façade.

(g) Sign shall be defined and include every illustration, lettering, device, insignia or display of any kind, however made, displayed, painted, supported or attached, used for the purpose of advertisement, identification, publicity or notice of any kind.

(h) Trademark shall be defined as a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination or words, phrases, symbols or designs that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods from one party from those of others.

(i) Service mark shall be defined as work, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination or words, phrases, symbols or designs that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service from one party from those of others.

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Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which produces research and designs policy to counter concentrated corporate power and strengthen local economies.