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Northport village board approves downtown parking changes

Rendering of the proposed Northport Inn. The owners

Rendering of the proposed Northport Inn. The owners of the John W. Engeman Theater have purchased the three-story building across the street from the venue and hope to transform it into an upscale inn. Village officials on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 delayed a vote on the project, which can't move forward until changes are made to zoning code to allow hotels in the downtown business district. Credit: Hoffman Grayson Architects LLP

Northport officials voted late Tuesday to approve parking changes on a trial basis to ease congestion along the village’s downtown Main Street corridor.

However, although the mayor and the three trustees at the board meeting discussed a proposal to change zoning rules to allow a hotel to be built in the business district, concerns about parking and congestion delayed a vote.

In a 4-0 vote on each of three parking proposals, trustees approved plans to establish new rules that expire 90 days after their passage, unless officials choose to extend them through new resolutions. Trustee Ian Milligan was absent Tuesday night.

“If they don’t work, we’ll have to look at other solutions,” Mayor George Doll said of the temporary measures.

The changes are intended to address chronic parking problems on Main Street.

“There’s definitely been an increase — particularly in the last 10 years — of traffic,” Northport Police Chief Bill Ricca said. “We have a finite amount of parking spots. We’re trying to come up with the right solution of how to shuffle them and make it work for as many different people as we can.”

One change will convert four two-hour, metered parking spots on Main Street into 20-minute spots.

Officials also voted to extend the hours and make parking free in three village-owned lots downtown, as well as in spots adjacent to the waterfront. Instead of two-hour spots, cars can now park in the lots and waterfront spots for up to 24 hours.

The goal is to get drivers seeking long-term parking off Main Street, with its two-hour metered limit, and into the lots that would allow for 24-hour parking, said Trustee Jerry Maline, who spearheaded this latest effort to address the problem.

“For years we’ve been receiving complaints, whether it’s from residents or business owners,” Maline said. “There’s not a simple solution.”

Northport officials also recently announced a parking amnesty that will be in effect from Sept. 1 to Oct. 1, offering drivers a 40 percent reduction on amounts due from parking violations that were issued from Jan. 1, 2010, to Jan. 1, 2017.

The proposed hotel is the Northport Inn, which would be built at 225 Main St., where a three-story building now sits across the street from the John W. Engeman Theater, whose owners bought the property.

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