The Patchogue Village Board will vote Monday to impose an 18-month moratorium on new taverns and restaurants, Mayor Paul Pontieri said Wednesday.
The moratorium will give village officials time to add hundreds of new parking spaces to address chronic shortages. Downtown business owners have said the lack of parking is hurting them by driving potential customers away.
The final hurdle for the moratorium was cleared Wednesday when the Suffolk County Planning Commission voted 8-1 to approve the temporary building ban.
The commission voted after an hourlong hearing at which Patchogue officials and business leaders said they needed to slow development in the village before allowing new eateries and bars.
"Over time, due to the success of the village, the problem has been, not enough parking," Deputy Mayor Jack Krieger said. "We can't keep up if we have more restaurants in the village."
James Bonanno, owner of the Tap Room bar, said as many as 600 restaurant employees park in the village on weekend evenings, blocking some customers from finding convenient parking.
"That employee [vehicle] is sitting there six, seven, eight hours," he said.
David Kennedy, executive director of the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, said the moratorium has the group's "full support."
The commission required the village to deliver a progress report by Sept. 9 and draft a plan to reduce parking demand. The commission weighs in on town and village land-use proposals when they potentially affect county roads and other county facilities.
Commissioner Michael Kaufman, who cast the lone dissenting vote, expressed concern about the moratorium's effect on existing businesses.
"You're basically going to shut down in one way or another, or limit in one way or another, the reason for your success," he said.
Krieger responded that restaurants and bars have proliferated so quickly that the village has not been able to provide enough parking for patrons and employees. The village is developing plans to add parking behind the Sixth District Court on West Main Street and behind the Patchogue Center for the Performing Arts, he said.
"We could get a new restaurant every month in the village," Krieger said. "We can't keep up with that. As a municipality, we need some breathing room."
Krieger said Patchogue officials and business owners plan to develop employee-only parking lots to open more spaces for customers.
Commissioner Michael Kelly expressed confidence in Patchogue officials. "The mayor and the board will figure this thing out, as they have many times before," he said.