Store Size Cap – Fairfield, CT

In 2007, the city of Fairfield enacted the following regulations, which limit retail stores and restaurants located in neighborhood business districts to no more than 4,000 square feet. The city has twelve neighborhood business districts.

The size limits were prompted in part by a proposed Walgreens in the Stratfield neighborhood. (A typical free-standing Walgreens is about 14,000 square feet.) 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 formula business ordinance.

Fairfield’s Neighborhood Business District Rule

12.5 Neighborhood Designed Business District
The purpose of this district is to provide local neighborhoods with needed and desirable convenience goods and services in a manner which will not be detrimental to the surrounding residential areas. The uses permitted in this zone shall be limited to those which will primarily serve the local neighborhood and are consistent with the purpose for which this district was designed. Permitted Uses in the Neighborhood Designed District

12.5.1Retail uses limited to: antiques, art supplies, books, clothing, drugs, dry goods, flowers, furniture, interior decorating, garden and farm supplies, gifts, groceries, fruits, vegetables, meats, sandwiches, hardware, shoe repair, stationery, periodicals and toilet articles, pets and related supplies; provided no individual retail establishment shall have an interior floor area exceeding 4,000 square feet.

12.5.2 Business and professional offices which primarily provide services to customers and clients on the premises

12.5.3 Banks and Financial institutions having a maximum interior floor area of 4,000 square feet.

12.5.4Self-service laundry having a maximum interior floor area of 4,000 square feet, provided that there shall be no use of inflammable liquids or steam.

12.5.5 Residential uses provided it shall not be located on a ground floor and not to exceed more than 50 percent of the total floor area of the building and no building of mixed residential business shall contain more than two stories devoted to residential use. Each dwelling unit must have a minimum floor area of 750 square feet, except that, with respect to dwelling units to be occupied exclusively by elderly families, as defined in Section 31.0 or dwelling units classified as affordable housing as defined in Section 31.0 minimum floor area for such units shall be consistent with the requirements of State and Federal programs for elderly and affordable housing.

12.5.6 Notwithstanding the above provision with regard to total floor area, residential use may occupy up to 66 2/3 percent of the total area of the building provided that those units in excess of 50 percent of the area of the building are contracted with the Town of Fairfield or its designated agent as "affordable housing" as defined in Section 31.0.

12.5.7 Bakeries and confectionery stores having a maximum interior floor area of 4,000 square feet.

12.5.8 Barber shops and beauty parlors having a maximum interior floor area of 4,000 square feet.

12.5.9Package stores for the sale and establishments for the service of alcoholic liquors, beer, ale or wine having a maximum interior floor area of 4,000 square feet.

12.5.10 Churches and other places or worship, parish halls, museums and charitable institutions

12.5.11 Boat houses, landings, docks and marinas

12.5.12 Off-street parking

12.5.13 Buildings, uses and facilities of the Town

12.5.14Railroad rights-of-way and passenger stations, including customary accessory accessory services therein, but not including switching, freight yards, terminals or storage sidings

12.5.15Restaurants and other food service establishments having a maximum interior floor area of 4,000 square feet and where customers are served only when seated at tables or counters and at least three-quarters of the customer seats are located within an enclosed building. Such uses may include a food take-out service incidental to the primary permitted use but shall not include establishments where customers are served in motor vehicles or served primarily at food take-out counters.

12.5.16 Veterinary hospitals, provided that there shall be no commercial boarding of dogs.

12.5.17The following uses are permitted subject to securing a Special Exception in accordance with Section 27.0 of the Zoning Regulations: Day nurseries Public utility substations and water pumping stations, uses and facilities of the State of Connecticut, Federal Government or other governmental agencies, which buildings shall not include institutions of a correctional nature or for the insane. Homes for the aged, rest homes, chronic and convalescent nursing homes Dance studios Assisted living facilities


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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.