By Janee Law
Northport Village Hall was packed Tuesday night with supporters, and at least one dissenter, of a plan to bring a boutique inn to Main Street.
The support was voiced during a public hearing on a proposal made by trustees to add a “Hotel/Inn” designation to village code, paving the way for the plan to move forward. Trustees are waiting on county and village planning department approval before voting on the change.
In the meantime, Trustee Ian Milligan said he wasn’t surprised by the support.
“I think that people really want this, and we certainly need it, but we also definitely need to listen to the concerns of neighbors,” Milligan said. “We have to weigh that out.”
This inn is planned by John W. Engeman Theater co-owners Kevin O’Neill and Richard Dolce, who proposed the three-story Northport Village Inn in February. They want to build it at 255 Main St. in the building that was formerly Danyell’s Kitchen, footsteps away from their theater.
Milligan added, The “key is that someone’s willing to put such a huge investment to help build the infrastructure of the village. You have to recognize that as a positive.”
The proposed multi-million-dollar inn would span around 22,000 square feet. Along with 22-24 guest rooms across the two upper floors, they also want to have space for a restaurant on the first floor.
O’Neill said after the hearing that he was pleased with the warm reception. He said he thinks residents are in support of it because of the lack of lodging in the village.
“I’m very satisfied,” he said. “It sounds very well received.”
Kevin Lawlor, a Lisa Drive resident, one of 21 people to voice support during the public hearing, said he thinks the inn would “be a boon to this town.”
“I do think the place needs a facelift,” Lawler added. “It will be a boon to the establishments, the businesses that are in this town and it’ll put us on the map.”
Bruce Adams, an Ocean Avenue resident, said he’s thrilled with the plan.
“When you want to put people up, it is alwaysvery difficult to find a decent hotel,” Adams said. “We’ve had hotels here in the past, but they were all torn down and there’s still a need.”
An opponent of the proposal, JoAnne Hall, said she thinks the inn would bring more congestion to the village.
“There is no parking here at all. People park on my street and I can’t get out of my driveway,” Hall, of Woodbine Avenue, said. “There’s going to be additional traffic on that street and noise with people coming up the hill and coming down the hill… It’s a reality. I think the idea is lovely, but not for here.”
The focus of Tuesday’s hearing was a local law that would allow a business owners to operate their building, so long as it is smaller than 12,000 square feet, as a hotel or inn with sleeping accommodations for paying, transient customers.
The proposal would also allow such buildings to house a bar and restaurant, and other typical hotel features, such as a spa.
Northport officials will send two draft zoning resolutions, one to the Suffolk County Planning Commission and the other to the Northport Village Planning Board, before scheduling a vote.