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After hearing input from the public Monday night on a proposed moratorium on new restaurant approvals in Patchogue Village, the village board is reserving any decision on the matter until a later, as-yet undetermined date.
“We heard from a number of the business owners,” village trustee and deputy mayor Jack Krieger said of the decision. “We want to just take our time on this and make the right decision.”
There’s also a procedural process at work.
Mayor Paul Pontieri said the proposal has to go before the Suffolk County Planning Commission before the village could take any action.
“If they want to modify or reject, we can override their decision with a supermajority, with a five out of seven vote,” Pontieri said. “This is the process we follow.
“That being said, we’re well into the discussion on what we’re going to do, with or without county approval. We have to do the county approval by formality, but we still have to take our own actions.”
The plan is to allow existing restaurants to change hands, just not allow for the conversion of any so-called dry spaces, such as retail shops, into restaurants (or wet spaces).
Also, any structural changes to restaurant buildings that would result in large increases in occupancies would also be rejected under the moratorium, which as-proposed would last 18 months.
Among those who expressed concerns with the proposed temporary ban Monday evening was Joel Furman, according to those in attendance.
Furman owns what’s known as the Furman building on West Main Street, which is currently being subdivided into smaller units.
“It defies the natural cause of commerce,” he told The Long Island Advance earlier this month. “Patchogue has become the most popular area to come for restaurants with the highest concentration of any village on Long Island. What’s wrong with that?”
According to village officials, the move has almost everything to do with the village’s parking crunch. Legacy retail shops that might have employed a handful of people are being increasingly replaced by restaurants — with much larger staffs in need of parking spaces.
There’s already nearly $3 million in place to start planning and designing a multi-level parking garage in the county-owned lot behind the district courthouse on West Main Street.
But the village needs county cooperation to get moving.
“In their defense, the county has their own processes that they have to go through,” Pontieri said.
In the meantime, he said the village could look into reconfiguring the lot and the surrounding roadways to create many more spaces.
The village already maintains the lot for the county.