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Restaurant, Freeport battle over noise

Joseph Creamer said Freeport began unfairly cracking down

Joseph Creamer said Freeport began unfairly cracking down on his business -- including denying a public assembly license, which he needed to acquire to operate a bar -- after he hosted a June 2011 fundraiser for village trustees William White and Jorge Martinez. (June 28, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Danielle Finkelstein

Joseph Creamer envisioned The Patio as a classic Long Island waterfront bar where patrons could sip drinks by Freeport's docks while listening to live music.

But Creamer's dream has devolved into a feud between the proprietor and village leaders. Creamer said the squall is politically motivated, but village officials say the bar, which opened just over a year ago, simply is a nuisance.

Creamer said the village began unfairly cracking down on his business -- including denying a public assembly license, which he needed to acquire to operate a bar -- after he hosted a June 2011 fundraiser for village trustees William White and Jorge Martinez.

White and Martinez are opponents of Mayor Andrew Hardwick. Martinez and White both declined to comment, citing a lawsuit Creamer filed.

"The mayor has preached time and time again about economic development," Creamer said. "He is forcing a beautiful, clean, brand-new Freeport business to shut its doors."

But Hardwick and other village officials say The Patio, on South Main Street near a residential neighborhood and a row of marinas about a mile from Freeport's famed Nautical Mile, disturbs the surrounding community because of excessive noise and drunken patrons.

"The bottom line is not everything is a great fit," Hardwick said. "This is not personal; I want everything to be successful, but there's certain things you can't put in a neighborhood."

Freeport officials were granted a temporary restraining order against The Patio that requires the business to shut down by midnight every night.

The village has denied The Patio's ability to host live music.

Creamer must apply for a new assembly license because he is operating his business illegally without one, village attorney Howard Colton said.

"Right now, he shouldn't be operating," Colton said.

Creamer has filed a notice of claim in U.S. District Court in Central Islip that accuses the village of violating his civil rights by interfering with his ability to run his business. Creamer said he is seeking to operate his business without the midnight curfew and to host live music at a reasonable volume.

A lawsuit seeking attorneys' fees and loss of income will likely follow, Creamer said, adding that he has difficulty packing the bar-restaurant because of the curfew and lack of music.

Creamer, of Freeport, said the village has issued him more than a dozen citations, totaling more than $6,000, for operating without a public assembly license.

However, he said, the village has groundlessly denied his applications for the license.

"I want to be afforded the same rights that everyone in this village is allowed," Creamer said. "I don't want to be met with grief and opposition from the village I pay an enormous amount of property taxes to."

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