A Norwalk boxing and mixed martial arts studio hopes to score a knockout in its attempt to open in Fairfield.
Adam Colberg of Fairfield, who owns Westport Boxing and MMA on Westport Avenue in Norwalk, wants to open his business in vacant commercial space at 160-172 Carter Henry Drive, the former home of Pinnacle Auto, on the south side of the Fairfield Railroad Station in downtown Fairfield.
Colberg, formerly a U.S. Marine, has entered into a lease with the property owner, Meehan and Ramos Pools LLC, and several area businesses and St. Thomas Church are backing his request to open in Fairfield.
Colberg needs town approval to open his business on Carter Henry Drive because town zoning regulations require him to have 33 parking spaces and he can provide only six. He's asking the town's Zoning Board of Appeals, a group of eight volunteer residents, to waive 27 of the required 33 parking spaces. The ZBA will hold a public hearing on his request at 2 p.m. July 8 in Sullivan-Independence Hall.
Donald W. Vidoli, president of Station Square Condominium Assoc., which owns property on Carter Henry Drive, says Colberg could use any of the 34 parking spaces available on his property outside of the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the Rev. Victor T. Martin, pastor of St. Thomas Church, which is across the Post Road from Carter Henry Drive, says Colberg's customers could use available parking spaces on the church's property, according to letters in the town's Zoning Department in Sullivan-Independence Hall.
Vicente Siguenza, owner of 55 Degrees Restaurant on nearby Miller Street, says Colberg's customers could use all of the parking spaces outside his restaurant from early morning hours to 11 a.m., according to a letter in the Zoning Department.
Colberg's boxing and mixed martial arts studio would occupy about 6,500 square feet of space and would include a boxing ring, three punching bags, an area for stretching, a retail store for members, a trainer's office, men's locker room, women's locker room, men's and women's restrooms, a reception area and a front office.
Christopher Barrato, Colberg's Fairfield lawyer, says in the application before the Zoning Board of Appeals that Colberg's business would offer one-on-one training, with two to four people training at any given time, during regular business hours. Group classes may be offered between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. when parking spaces on the south side of the Fairfield Railroad Station are available to the general public, according to Barrato.
Barrato says in the application that the Carter Henry Drive site where Colberg wants to expand is like most downtown commercial properties in that it doesn't have enough parking spaces.
Barrato contends that Colberg's "hardship" - a legal requirement for the granting of waivers to zoning regulations - is that the construction of commercial properties in the downtown area predated the widespread use of automobiles in that area.
Colberg's business has six spaces available from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., though he would have more spaces available to him, based on letters from area business and property owners and St. Thomas Church, outside and during those hours, as well as parking spaces by the railroad station.
Westport Boxing and MMA was named "Best Martial Arts Studio" in 2009 by the Fairfield County Weekly, which described the 5,000-square-foot gym as having a staff of professional fighters to train clients one-on-one.
The business' Web site, www.westportboxing.com, identifies Idris Price, a former professional football player with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets and New England Patriots, and Terry Southerland, a boxer who compiled a 148-14 record as an amateur and 21-3 record as a pro, as trainers at Westport Boxing and MMA.