Just in time for the summer, Westhampton Beach is loosening restrictions on a previous entertainment permit law that barred dancing and certain charges at local restaurants.
The village’s board of trustees voted 5-0 at its Thursday meeting to enact a new Chapter 80 in the village code. The chapter regulates entertainment permits in the village and allows officials to strike the previous prohibitions on dancing and cover charges at village restaurants, and review restaurants applying for indoor entertainment permits on a yearly basis.
If there are no official noise complaints against restaurants applying for the permits, the board can renew the permits without a hearing. Otherwise, the board could opt not to issue those permits to such establishments, officials said.
“The idea is to allow entertainment in these types of establishments and to not allow it indiscriminately, but to have some control over it and not create a right in the future so that people can [think] ‘Just because I had it one year, I can have it forever,’ ” said Westhampton Beach Village Attorney Stephen Angel.
The public hearing portion on the law before the vote drew no objections, but residents and restaurant owners asked questions about parking issues stemming from the law and whether the board would be flexible about longer time limits for parking at for restaurants with live music.
The law went into effect Friday.
The previous village law was enacted in 1993 and stemmed from several complaints of drug use, late-night drinking and noise from crowds at village establishments. However, the board was made aware of the law’s restrictions after The Claddagh Restaurant and Tap Room on Montauk Highway, which opened last fall, held a comedy night event that some thought was prohibited under the town code.
Jim Cantwell, the restaurant’s owner, said after the hearing that he was “very happy” with the new law, adding, “I’d hate to have to go through a problem in July.”