MERIDEN — Tacos Mi Nacho is one step closer to expanding on Broad Street after a City Council subcommittee voted last week to approve the sale of a vacant city-owned parcel to the Mexican restaurant.
The council’s Economic Development, Housing & Zoning Committee approved the sale of 562 Broad St. to Luis Librado Lemus-Aceves and Claudia Sanchez-Lopez, who have been looking to expand their eatery for years. The property would be sold to Lemus-Aceves for $25,000 under the proposed deal, according to meeting minutes.
The parcel at 562 Broad St. is one house away from Tacos Mi Nachos’ current restaurant in a small plaza at 550 Broad St. Lemus-Aceves has a purchase agreement with the owner of the adjacent home at 554 Broad St. Plans call for Lemus-Aceves to raze the multi-family home to add to the .16-acre city-owned lot and come back to the city with a site plan application.
The idea is that the restaurant will use the two parcels to build a bigger location with parking.
The lot was appraised by the city in 2017 at $83,200, according to land records. The city acquired the lot in 2005 and to date, Lemus-Aceves is the only one with interest in purchasing it, according to a city official.
The sale was approved under the conditions that the parcels at 562 and 554 Broad St. be merged and that the purchasers show “substanial progress toward marketability within 18 months of the property purchase.”
Council Majority Leader David Lowell, who chairs the Economic Development, Housing & Zoning Committee, said the restaurant’s expansion is a positive sign for the city.
“I certainly like to see business growth, and they have looked for the better part of a year and a half or two years at opportunities to expand,” Lowell said.
The committee also voted last week to approve changing a zoning regulation that prohibits restaurants and hotels that serve liquor from opening within 1,500 feet of each other.
City Planner Renata Bertotti, who proposed the change, believes the regulation, which applies city-wide except in the Transit-Oriented Development zone downtown, restricts the city's development opportunities.
Lowell agreed that the regulation is restricting Meriden’s growth, calling it “outdated.”
“I think by removing the 1,500-foot distance requirement, we’re able to attract mainstream, larger-seating restaurants,” Lowell said.
Many national chain restaurants hire employees to review local municipal zoning regulation when scouting out new locations to expand, Lowell added.
“Often times those groups have people look up what zoning regulations are, and we very well could have been disqualified by a simple look-up on a website,” Lowell said.
City officials couldn’t say why or when the regulation was originally put in.
The full City Council is expected to vote on the committee’s recommendation for the sale to Tacos Mi Nacho and the regulation change Monday. The committee approved both proposals unanimously.