Friday, April 13, 2007

Will '300-foot' rule doom wine bar/retail store even before its first pour?


In order to open a new wine bar on Main Street, a Northport man is seeking a waiver from a Village zoning variance that prohibits a tavern from opening within 300 feet of another.

Matthew Spirn of Bayview Avenue, in photo, came before the Northport Village Board of Zoning Appeals Wednesday, March 28 in support of a new establishment he hopes to open in half of the Open Gallery’s space on Main Street to be called the Northport Wine Cellar and the Northport Tasting Room. The Open Gallery is located in the building that formerly was home to Arndt’s Stationary.

Section 306-11 of the Northport Village code reads that in the Central Business A District, lands shall be used and buildings shall be erected, altered, used or occupied only for the following purposes: a Tavern or bar, not including a nightclub or other such entertainment establishment, provided that no such use shall be established on or after May 7, 1980, if the proposed use is located within a radius of 300 feet from all property lines of another tavern or bar or “I know there are several establishments that do fall in to that radius,” Mr. Spirn said. “But I won’t be competing with them.”
Village Attorney Jim Matthews said Mr. Spirn needed to provide the Board with a radius map denoting which businesses would be affected.
He added that no one has ever been given a variance for the 300 feet rule.
Mr. Spirn said that he hoped to set a precedent.
Mr. Spirn plans to split 1,100-square-foot, 20-foot by 55-foot space in to two sections with the front operating as a retail wine store and the “tavern” to be located in the rear. He is required by New York State law to have two licenses for the two areas, as a tavern is not allowed to sell bottles of wine.
In the wine bar, Mr. Spirn hopes to sell wine by the glass, hold wine tastings and serve only food that doesn’t require preparing. He is asking for six stools and said the number of chairs he would be allowed is negotiable.
Mr. Matthews said that Mr. Spirn may also need a parking variance because this new use is “more intensive” than the gallery or stationary store.
“The requirement for retail is one spot for every 200 square feet,” Mr. Matthews said. “For a tavern, that is one spot for every 75 square feet.”
BZA Chair Andy Cangemi recommended that Mr. Spirn requisition a traffic study. “No one on Main Street has parking per se but we need a traffic study to know how many cars may be coming in and out and where they might park.”
Mr. Spirn said that he didn’t believe his business would cause any new problems to develop with parking in the Village.
“This isn’t going to be a tavern, per se,” he said. “People won’t be coming in and hanging out all night.”
Mr. Matthews asked how he would enforce that.
Mr. Spirn acquiesced that it could be difficult but by nature, the wine bar would have a high turnover.
“People could obviously stay as long as they want,” he said. “But the idea is to come pre-date or pre-theater. The idea is to really have a glass of wine and be on your way instead of sitting there all night.”
Mr. Cangemi said that he understood Mr. Spirn’s plan but, again, enforcing it could be difficult.
“From a practical standpoint, how do we enforce that? It doesn’t sound like it will be anything but a class a operation, but we do have requirements in the Village.”
Mr. Matthews asked Mr. Spirn if he had received a letter of denial from the Village Building Inspector. He said that he hadn’t submitted anything yet.
Mr. Matthews said that for the BZA to consider a variance, the applicant needed to first have a letter of denial from the Northport Village Building Inspector Loary Gunn. “You have to get denied first then you appeal it to this Board,” he said. “That’s the way the jurisdiction works out so you need to go to her and get an appealable document.”
Board member Jacqueline Ingham said that Mr. Spirn needed to submit specific drawings showing things such as where restrooms, sinks, refrigeration, storage and handicapped access would be located.
According to the Village code, chapter 147, “a survey of the premises for which the permit is requested showing all structures thereon, a sketch showing the proposed number of tables and chairs and the approximate area to be used for outdoor dining with a proposed seating plan for same.”
Mr. Spirn said that he waited to hear what the BZA had to say before he contacted an architect.
Mr. Matthews asked if he had made his application to the New York State Liquor Control Board.
Again, he said he waited to hear what the BZA had to say before he did so and before he signed his lease.
Mr. Cangemi asked how long his lease was going to be for. “I’ve been offered a four-month lease,” he said.
The owner of the building and operator of the Open Gallery Ian Murdoch said that he thinks the gallery and a wine bar would go well together and that the gallery would continue to operate in half of the building space.
“This is certainly better than something like an appliance repair shop,” he said. “I think it would be a real asset.”
Northport Village Residents Association Board member Mimi Kail 44 asked if Mr. Spirn planned to sell strictly New York State wines. Mr. Spirn said that he the percentage breakdown would be 50/50.
Arthur Glad, owner of Pumpernickels Restaurant at the head of Main Street, said he agreed.
“I really think this would be great for Northport,” he said. “I have some Long Island wines in my restaurant I have to go all the way out east to taste them.”
Mr. Glad also scoffed at the impact the wine bar would have on Village parking.
“Traffic problem? To us, if we don’t have traffic we have a problem,” he said.
Mr. Cangemi said the BZA has an obligation to make sure that “cars have somewhere to go.”
Mr. Cangemi adjourned the hearing until the BZA’s April meeting to give Mr. Spirn an opportunity to submit his site plan application and develop the traffic study.
“At the April meeting, anyone else who wants to speak can still have their two cents heard,” he said. “Obviously this is something unique that we’ve never had in the village so we’re trying to find out if it’s going to fit in.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This tavern is open now- I highly recommend it. I had a lovely glass of white wine and I would like to go back and buy a bottle of it!

Try it out.