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Huntington zoning board postpones ruling on IMAC parking

The Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals Thursday night put off a vote that would grant a parking variance to a group of investors seeking to transform the former Inter-Media Arts Center building in Huntington Village into a larger performing arts center.

Zoning Board Chairman Christopher Modelewski said, "We're not going to vote on this tonight. There are a lot of open questions we have. I'm going to leave the hearing open to further submissions."

Paramount Theater of Great Neck requested a variance that relies on existing parking spaces in town lots to meet minimum parking space requirements, as they seek to expand the theater from 700 seats 1,665. Under the existing design they have 272 parking spaces. The proposed design requires 438 parking spaces.

Representatives of the investors who are backing the expansion submitted a parking plan that would include valet parking at the Elm Street municipal lot. People who use the valet parking would be given an incentive to dine at local restaurants, according to the theater backers' plan.

The plan provides for theatergoers to be ferried by shuttle back and forth between the theater and nearby lots at the town hall and the Huntington Station Long Island Rail Road.

Speaking after the meeting, attorney Michael McCarthy of Huntington, who is representing the Paramount investors, said: "I feel very confident." The investors are Steve Ubertini, James Philips and Brian Doyle, who all have ties to Huntington.

Town officials said downtown businesses, such as restaurants, routinely apply for such a variance to use the municipal lots because they're required to have a certain number of parking spaces.

Plans for the expanded theater include a circular bar, a glass window overlooking New York Avenue, and a marque that protrudes over the sidewalk above ground level.

John Tunney, a restaurant owner in Huntington Village, told the board that although he is not against the theater, he was concerned about traffic. "We need to examine the realities of traffic on Friday and Saturday nights," he said.

IMAC closed last summer after 26 years of bringing a variety of acts to Huntington Village. Last July, Town Supervisor Frank Petrone appointed a performing arts center task force and charged it with insuring continuation of performing arts in the village.

The Zoning Board of Appeals has yet to set a new date for the hearing variance request.

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