With a moratorium on new restaurants about to expire, Babylon Village has enacted changes to its code to maintain control over such businesses.
In November 2018, the village extended a moratorium on new restaurants for a third year, with exceptions for those opening in the same space as a previous restaurant or restaurants with fewer than 20 seats.
While the special-permit process remains, restaurant applications will now be reviewed by the board of trustees to consider “such planning concerns it determines in its discretion necessary to promote the public health, safety, and welfare.” Also, restaurants now must have at least one parking space for every two counter stools or for every 3 linear feet of counter space, as well as one space for every two seats at a table, along with one space for every two employees “on the maximum work shift.”
The new requirements will not apply to establishments that seat less than eight people or which provide primarily take-out service, or retail sale of food.
This year the village conducted an in-house parking study looking at nearby municipalities, village attorney Gerard Glass said, and concluded that the law needed to have a set of parking minimums to give it “some teeth.”
“Currently in the retail business district for this type of use there is no minimum parking requirement, leaving the door wide open to any restaurant that wants to come in,” he said. “One of the concerns the board has expressed is maintaining a diverse business district and not becoming a village of just restaurants.”
The board voted 5-0 last week to adopt the changes.
“It helps us have some control over people coming in and buying up storefronts and putting in bigger restaurants rather than retail,” said Mayor Ralph Scordino.
Kelly Peckholdt, president of the village’s chamber of commerce and owner of a village dance studio, said she understands the board’s desire for more control and diversity but noted that brick-and-mortar businesses continue to struggle against online shopping, and that the new parking regulations will make it difficult for restaurants to open in the parking-strapped village.
“I feel like it’s a Catch-22 because retail is so hard these days,” Peckholdt said. “It’s so difficult to survive, but if restaurants can come in and be successful then great. At least it’s filling an empty storefront.”