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Northport Village officials mull code to allow rooftop dining

Skipper's Pub on Main Street in Northport on

Skipper's Pub on Main Street in Northport on Friday, July 15, 2016. The tavern's owners, Paul and Marie Gallowitsches, have been seeking permission from village officials to add a rooftop bar. Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Northport officials met Tuesday with the owners of a village restaurant fighting to add a rooftop bar to their downtown establishment.

Paul and Marie Gallowitsches, the owners of Skipper’s Pub, have for the past two years unsuccessfully sought village permission to open the rooftop area above the tavern. The restaurant is on the corner of Main Street and Woodbine Avenue across from Northport Harbor.

Mayor George Doll said the talks are not an indication that rooftop dining is guaranteed in Northport, and that any legislation would require further discussion.

“Out of courtesy to them [the Gallowitsches] and anyone else who wants to do rooftop dining, we’re trying to develop something that we can all live with,” Doll said.

Skipper’s application to start offering rooftop tables has split the community. Opponents argue that it would lead to late-night noise and worsen parking problems in the harborfront area. Supporters have cited the addition’s promise of a waterfront view, saying the new offering would be good for the entire village.

“It was actually a big commitment for them [village officials] to listen to us,” Paul Gallowitsch said Tuesday. “Before, the word was ‘ban’ ... and they have really changed their way of thinking because we got tremendous support. People really like the idea.”

Northport trustees had previously considered a rooftop dining ban, but instead passed a resolution in March that clarified the outdoor dining code to state that it applied only to sidewalk seating. They agreed to take up the issue of rooftop dining separately.

“It didn’t seem right to us, that the idea of sidewalk dining should be done on the roof with the same ordinance,” Doll said.

The Gallowitsches have said they spent thousands of dollars in their pursuit of a $400,000 rooftop addition to the restaurant they have owned for 40 years.

The couple said rooftop dining will allow them to serve more people in the summer and make enough money to stay open through the cold, slow winter months. During this past winter Skipper’s closed on Tuesdays — a first — to save money, Gallowitsch said.

This week’s discussions with village officials focused on how many seats the Skipper’s project could add and the parking challenges that it could pose, as well as the kinds of requirements any new code would need to include to ensure safety and noise control.

Officials said they are researching how other villages on Long Island, including Patchogue and Port Jefferson, have regulated rooftop dining.

Northport officials noted that when Patchogue established a code allowing rooftop dining in 2013, it included language stressing that the additions could not disrupt neighboring properties.

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