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Westhampton Beach may ease code restricting dancing, cover fees

The Claddagh Restaurant and Tap Room on Montauk

The Claddagh Restaurant and Tap Room on Montauk Highway in Westhampton Beach has reportedly hosted events that are prohibited under current town code. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Westhampton Beach Village officials may vote Thursday to ease restrictions resulting from a decades-old village zoning ordinance that prohibits dancing and certain fees at village restaurants.

Additional conditions in the code’s special exemption permit section for restaurants also include age restrictions and don’t allow businesses to have cover charges and admission fees.

According to officials, the regulations came into effect following a period during the 1970s when village officials received several complaints of drug use and late-night drinking and noise at establishments that were attracting unruly crowds.

There were “a great deal of problems” from such establishments at the time, village Deputy Mayor Ralph Urban said Wednesday.

However, the board was unaware of the law until it was brought to their attention that The Claddagh Restaurant and Tap Room on Montauk Highway was hosting events that are prohibited under the current town code.

If the changes are passed, the regulations would be amended to eliminate the restrictions on dancing and cover charges. The board would annually review restaurants applying for permits to host events involving dancing and a cover charge.

“We would like to give businesses some flexibility so they can increase their patronage, but it would be a privilege, not a right, in order to do this,” Mayor Maria Moore said. “If we receive reports from the police department or from code enforcement that there are issues, we would review the application and have the right to withdraw the permit or not issue another one the following year.”

The village board of trustees will hold a public hearing Thursday on the proposed amendments to the ordinance. If there are no major objections, board members said they will likely vote on passing the revised code during the meeting.

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