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Skipper’s Pub owners sue after Northport rejects restaurant expansion plan

Skipper's Pub on Main Street in Northport on

Skipper's Pub on Main Street in Northport on July 30, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

Owners of Skipper’s Pub in Northport are appealing the village Zoning Board of Appeals rejection of their application to open a rooftop seafood bar.

The family filed suit last month in Suffolk County Supreme Court against the ZBA and the village, stating the decision to reject the application was arbitrary and capricious.

“We feel that the zoning board should have approved our proposal,” said Paul Gallowitsch Jr., who owns the restaurant along with his parents, Marie and Paul Gallowitsch Sr.

“We’ve gotten overwhelming support, and so many people were disappointed with the decision, so we decided to pursue it and file this.”

The village was served with the filing on Monday.

Village Attorney Stuart Besen said Wednesday that Northport officials “believe that the zoning board decision was a legally sound decision, and we’re confident that the courts will uphold it ... The decision wasn’t arbitrary or capricious; it was based on sound law.”

Owners Paul and Marie Gallowitsch appeared before the ZBA in July to appeal the initial rejection of their application for a $400,000 project that would create more than 100 outdoor seats.

The zoning board unanimously denied the request in a Nov. 19 decision, stating the owners did not 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.

The attorney representing Skipper’s in the appeal, Linda Margolin of Islandia-based Bracken Margolin Besunder, said the ZBA has granted similar variances to many other Northport businesses and restaurants, but she did not site specific locations.

“They had no basis for refusing the application,” she said. “There is a parking lot directly across the street from my clients’ premises.”

The Gallowitsches had envisioned a fresh oyster bar with a view of Northport Harbor — from the restaurant at the corner of Main Street and Woodbine Avenue, across from the popular Cow Harbor Park and a few hundred feet from the water.

Many residents spoke in support and in opposition of the project, with some saying the rooftop expansion would be a good addition to the village and others arguing it would be too noisy and compound parking difficulties downtown.

The Gallowitsches have owned Skipper’s for 38 years, and it’s remained a popular spot among locals.

Marie Gallowitsch has said the restaurant’s busiest season is summer, and the outdoor addition would help them make up for money lost in the snowy winter months. With business slow during the offseason, the family has considered closing for months at a time. For now, Skipper’s will remain open year-round.

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