August 23, 2017
By Valerie Bauman
Northport Village trustees approved zoning changes Tuesday night that will allow hotels to operate on and around Main Street.
The village previously had nothing in its code that would allow hotels.
Officials drafted the legislation after Kevin J. O’Neill and Richard T. Dolce, owners of the John W. Engeman Theater, on Main Street purchased a three-floor building across the street from the theater with the goal of converting it into an upscale inn.
The multimillion-dollar project faced a final round of opposition from residents concerned that the hotel — and its planned 200-seat restaurant — would worsen an already congested parking situation downtown.
“In Northport there is a lot of pain about parking, and it’s not a trivial matter,” business owner Carolyn Colwell said at Tuesday’s meeting in Village Hall. “It affects access to small business, civic services and even residents’ access to their homes.”
O’Neill and Dolce still need to obtain the standard permit and project approvals before they can break ground for the hotel.
Residents and Northport business owners had collected signatures on a petition that urged village trustees to address parking problems before allowing a hotel with a large restaurant to move into the village.
O’Neill has said he has a vested interest in making sure that parking runs smoothly because he is committed to making the community a better place to live. The hotel, like the theater, would offer valet parking, he said.
“There’s been a lot of due diligence done on this project,” O’Neill said. “My goal all the time is to make sure that we inconvenience those around us as little as possible with the hopes that we’ll bring something that will enhance the village. That was the hope with the theater, and that’s the hope with the hotel.”
O’Neill said the partners decided to pursue a hotel and restaurant as a way to diversify revenues and ensure financial stability for the theater in the future.
“We go as the show goes,” O’Neill said. “We can’t rely solely on ticket sales.”