Babylon reviews shopping center parking

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Babylon officials plan to hold a public hearing this month on a proposed change to the town parking code for restaurants and large shopping centers.

The parking code for shopping centers mandates one parking space for each 150 square feet of the gross floor area at the site. Bars and restaurants need one parking space for each two stools at counter areas or one space for each three linear feet of counter; plus one parking space for each two seats at a table; and one space for each two employees on the maximum work shift.

Under the proposal, an exception would be added for bars and restaurants in shopping centers in excess of 350,000 square feet of gross floor area. For centers meeting those requirements -- Tanger Outlet Center in Deer Park, Airport Plaza in East Farmingdale and the Great South Bay Shopping Center in West Babylon -- the code would require one parking space for each 200 square feet of gross floor area for the entire center.

The exception would also be applied to permitting for new restaurants, which require a special exception permit from the planning board, and the shopping centers, except for uses "where the planning board determines a separate calculation during site plan review."

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The move is designed to attract more restaurants to the shopping centers and reduce the need for variances for inadequate parking, town spokesman Tim Ruggeri said.

When parking requirements are calculated for shopping centers of this size, it has not been taken into account that customers often patronize more than one business during a visit, Ruggeri said, so parking is adequate for incoming restaurants.

The public hearing is set for Oct. 23 at 3:30 p.m. in Babylon Town Hall, Lindenhurst.

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