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Skipper's Pub application to open rooftop bar in downtown Northport denied by zoning board

The exterior of Skipper's Pub on Main Street

The exterior of Skipper's Pub on Main Street in Northport, seen here on July 30, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

Northport Village officials have denied an application for Skipper's Pub to build a seasonal rooftop bar that the owners had argued would make it more affordable to stay open year-round.

The Village Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously denied the request in a Nov. 19 decision, stating the case made by owners Paul and Marie Gallowitsch didn't have enough proof to justify a variance on Northport's requirement that restaurants provide more off-street parking for expansions. The board also said rooftop outdoor dining is not a permitted use in the zoning district in the village's downtown waterfront.

"I have never seen a zoning board work so hard to deny a case that so clearly should have been granted," said attorney Christopher Modelewski of Huntington, who represented Skipper's in the application.

Modelewski, who serves as chairman of the Town of Huntington's Zoning Board of Appeals, filed the restaurant's final argument Sept. 16, after a July public hearing that drew mixed community reaction to the proposal.

The Gallowitsches didn't immediately respond to calls seeking comment. Marie Gallowitsch previously said the $400,000 project would have had added a rooftop, fresh seafood bar with a waterfront view and 109 seats.

The project had raised concerns among some residents and nearby business owners about how such a large expansion would affect noise and parking in Northport's already busy downtown. Others spoke in support of the project, saying they wanted the opportunity to drink and eat fresh oysters a few hundred feet from Northport Harbor.

The Gallowitsches own the single-story building that Skipper's is in and lease space to other businesses there: Benkei sushi, Maroni Cuisine and Village Tailor. The couple had proposed eliminating the sidewalk seating for Skipper's and their tenants (as well as losing some indoor seating) to offset the increase in people and cars the project could bring to Northport.

Ultimately, those ideas didn't satisfy the ZBA.

The Gallowitsches have owned Skipper's for 38 years. The restaurant is at the corner of Main Street and Woodbine Avenue. Marie Gallowitsch had said the restaurant's most busy season is summer, and the outdoor addition would help them make up for money lost in the snowy winter months.

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