Plans to install an IHOP restaurant in Westbury, much maligned by neighbors, moved forward last week after the village approved a rezoning proposal.
The board voted 5-0 to rezone a property on Ellison Avenue, just behind the former Don Juan's bar on Old Country Road. The developer, Westbury Pancake House Inc., plans to tear down a home on the property, as well as the former Footsie's bar, both of which it owns, and replace them with a parking lot for the restaurant.
Residents spoke out against the plans at a lengthy public hearing in October.
Many described feeling wary about a new restaurant moving in, recalling the troubled nightclub and bar that was open for two decades and was the site of a deadly gang shooting in 2008.
Others feared the addition of a restaurant would lead to more cars being parked on residential side streets.
The bar closed in 2009, and at hearings residents recalled congested streets with shattered glass from broken beer bottles near the curbs.
But village Mayor Peter Cavallaro told residents at Thursday's board of trustees meeting that IHOP presents a "less obnoxious" use than Don Juan's.
In recent weeks, Cavallaro said, he met with attorneys for neighboring residents and the developer, who he said agreed to several concessions.
The mayor said the developer would manage its own commercial garbage pickup and install a no-right-hand-turn sign on the Manhattan Avenue side of the parking lot. That would force cars to exit onto Old Country Road, bypassing residential streets.
One concession the developers would not agree to, Cavallaro said, was a promise not to install a restaurant in a third commercial space it owns, adjacent to the former Don Juan's. But if such a plan were proposed, "We'd still have control," Cavallaro said. "They're going to have to come back for another variance anyway."
The developers still need approvals from the village's zoning board for a variance for its proposed parking lot, and from the planning board, which grants site plan approval.