By Janee Law
Northport Village trustees have, at least for the time being, banned rooftop dining.
However, trustees also have not ruled out the possibility of allowing rooftop dining in the future, and are planning a workshop to discuss possible means of introducing the attraction in the village.
“You can’t have rooftop dining based on the outdoor sidewalk dining law as it presently exists,” Stuart Besen, the village’s attorney, said during a public hearing at a trustee meeting on Tuesday.
But “that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s banned throughout the village in the future,” he added.
The most-recent move by trustees was unanimously approved Tuesday, clarifying village code to ban rooftop dining in the village code portion that applies to outdoor sidewalk dining. Trustee Ian Milligan said further clarifying the law was important because the sidewalk dining section is based on permits, which are “a privilege, not a right.”
Milligan added, “It’s a neutral decision on the rooftop itself, but it helps to clear away the confusion and make it very clear that rooftop has to be looked at on its own.”
The public workshop, which had yet to be scheduled as of deadline Wednesday, would review concerns of residents and business owners, and examine codes of other towns and villages that currently permit rooftop dining, such as Port Jefferson.
Milligan is hopeful the workshop would help trustees “to create a rooftop law or rooftop code, if we choose to do that.”
He continued, “Our job is to represent the business owners but also to represent everybody, the residents. We have to look at their concerns seriously.”
Milligan and Northport Village Mayor George Doll added that they have invited Skipper’s Pub co-owner Paul Gallowitsch, a vocal proponent for rooftop dining, to participate in the workshop.
Marie Gallowitsch, his wife and also co-owner of the pub, said Tuesday that she and her husband have also been asked to be part of a village “zoning code committee.”
“That would be good, and that would be promising. We’d certainly be willing to do that,” she added. “Maybe we can hammer something out that would be amenable to everybody.”
The Gallowitsches are currently in the midst of a legal battle with the village after the Northport Board of Zoning Appeals denied their proposal to bring rooftop dining to Skipper’s.
On Tuesday, Sherry Pavone, of Northport, an opponent of rooftop dining, said she’s pleased with trustees’ move to clarify village code and added that she plans on attending the workshop.
“I think [rooftop dining] changes the tenor of the village — the noise, the additional required seating. I think will be a problem,” she said.
Bob Forrester, of Northport, a supporter of rooftop dining, said he’s hopeful trustees will now move forward with bringing rooftop dining to the village.
“[They] have that responsibility as board members to keep this town moving in a forward direction,” Forrester said. “I think rooftop dining is one of the ways that we’re going to do it so that we don’t become one of those ‘stuck in the 1950s’ great towns.”