By Andrew Wroblewski
Small-scale restaurants around town can soon start applying for liquor licenses thanks to a bill passed by the Huntington Town Board on Tuesday. However, officials plan to amend the legislation in March to exclude businesses located in parking-starved areas such as Huntington village.
The legislation, first proposed by Councilwoman Tracey Edwards in November, also allows small restaurants like pizzerias, to add more seats. The new “bistro” classification is for restaurants with less than 2,500 square feet of space.
Support emerged at a public hearing last month, but some opposed the measure, fearing the bill could create further parking issues in the town’s hamlet centers, which are defined as Cold Spring Harbor, East Northport, Greenlawn, Huntington Station and downtown Huntington.
To remedy this concern, Edwards said a public hearing will be scheduled for March to discuss amending the legislation to exclude businesses located in those areas. She said the main concern is Huntington village, but other areas could also be excluded.
After some discussion, the board passed the bill 3-1, with Councilman Gene Cook voting against it and Councilwoman Susan Berland opting to abstain since, Berland said, she was not aware of plans to amend before the meeting.
Berland said she’s concerned that owners of businesses in areas that could later be excluded could apply for a liquor license before an amendment is passed, creating a “legal quagmire.”
Requests to speak to town attorney Cindy Elan-Mangano on the matter were not returned before deadline.
Edwards said she believes that by waiting, the town would be “delaying based on something that could happened versus the facts we have today … We have people that we can help right away, so let’s help them.” Edwards said those people represent businesses that are not in Huntington village.
“By doing it in two pieces, you allow the restaurants that have been waiting for this to be approved to move forward, and then you amend the legislation to care for the issue that was raised in the village by carving them out until we have a long-term parking solution.”
The current legislation will take effect once it is filed in the Office of the Secretary of New York.