Vinsetta Garage strikes deal with Berkley to resolve parking drama

The hubbub over parking at Vinsetta Garage in Berkley is a step closer to being silenced - but the decision which was approved by the city, remains controversial with some houses being torn down to do it.

The city’s planning commission approved a site plan for the restaurant’s expansion of the parking lot on Eaton Street and construction of a second lot on Oxford — addressing a decade of homeowner complaints about Vinsetta customers parking on their streets to get to the popular restaurant.

"There were times we had to park all the way down there just because there were so many Vinsetta guests lining our street," said resident Lauren Bonofiglio.

"If it takes the parking off of our street that’s fine, but I want to make sure that it is landscaped, that it looks professional, that it looks nice, that we have some type of enclosure - and it’s not just a big, messy, overgrown lot," said resident Nicki Sanom.

The vote to approve the site plan included conditions to address residents' concerns about the parking lots — which will have 28 spaces on Eaton and 26 on Oxford.

"In addition to that, it included provisions that there had to be screen walls, masonry screen walls to match the brick at Vinsetta," said Kristen Kapelanski. "There also had to be some landscape components included as well."

Kapelanski, the Berkley community development director, says the city walked a tight rope in addressing the concerns of homeowners and the demands of the restaurant.

The city approved a consent agreement with the Vinsetta after it sued Berkley to demolish some nearby homes it bought to make way for the parking lots.

"We realize this is not a perfect solution for any of the parties involved, but we do feel the city has come to the best compromise for all those interested parties," Kapelanski said.

Vinsetta Garage co-owner Curt Catallo says the parking lot plan has always been the best forward and they’re going above and beyond what’s required for them.

"If you look at a city's ordinances, their parking lot ordinances are designed to make sure people's headlights are not protruding past a wall or that the lights are too bright," Catallo said. "And in our case, our walls are going to be higher than the ordinance, our lights are going to be lower in output than the ordinance, all to make sure we’re not disruptive to the neighborhood.

"I think at the end of the day we’re going to have a parking lot  that, if it’s any more attractive people will just get carry-out and eat in their cars, because it’s going to be an attractive lot and the city is going to hold us to that."