Newsday: Northport considers zone changes allowing downtown hotels

May 17, 2017

By Valerie Bauman

A rendering of a hotel proposed for Main
A rendering of a hotel proposed for Main Street in Northport by the owners of the John W. Engeman Theater. More than 100 people packed Northport Village hall Tuesday night, May 16, 2017, at a hearing on proposed zoning changes that would allow the hotel on Main Street. Photo Credit: Hoffman Grayson Architects LLP

More than 100 people packed Northport Village hall Tuesday night, voicing overwhelming support for proposed zone changes that would allow hotels to operate on and around Main Street.

Officials drafted two proposals addressing the issue after Kevin J. O’Neill and Richard T. Dolce, owners of the John W. Engeman Theater, purchased a three-story building across the street from the venue with the goal of converting it into an upscale inn.

In order for O’Neill and Dolce’s project — or any hotel proposal — to move forward, village code would first need to be revised, Northport officials said.

Current village law does not include hotels in its list of permitted uses of commercial property downtown, Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin said Tuesday.

O’Neill said Tuesday night that it would be a “multimillion”-dollar project if the village changes the code, and he and his partner succeed in pushing their proposal through further regulatory procedures.

“The concept, in general, was very well-received because there’s no place to stay,” O’Neill said. “I think the area has been starved for lodging opportunities, and the residents are very, very excited about the prospects of that coming into the town.”

“I’m sure all of you have been in a situation where you have people come to visit and you don’t particularly want them to stay in your home,” Northport resident Jeff Barasch, 69, said. “You have to tell them, ‘You don’t have to leave, but you can’t stay.’ Now there’s an opportunity to stay.”

Barasch’s comments — and those from others supporting the new hotel — were met with applause. However, three residents spoke up with concerns about how a hotel could impact Northport’s already limited parking.

“There is no parking here at all,” JoAnne Hall said. “If you don’t think there’s going to be additional traffic on that street and noise with people coming up the hill, coming down the hill, there will be. It’s a reality. The idea is lovely . . . but not for here.”

Village officials said the current hotel proposal would provide one off-street parking space for each room at the inn The inn would have about two dozen rooms, proponents have said.

Village trustees adjourned the hearings without voting, but kept the hearings open for future comment.

Officials said they will send the two draft zoning resolutions to the village Planning Board and Suffolk County Zoning Commission for review.


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