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Restaurant can continue its challenge of a Rockville Centre Zoning Board of Appeals decision

After sitting vacant for several years, the old

After sitting vacant for several years, the old Rockville Centre Twin Cinema was turned into a Bonefish Grill restaurant. Credit: Instagram

A Rockville Centre restaurant has won the right to proceed against the village in a challenge of the zoning board of appeals' restrictions on how it can operate.

In an Oct. 30 decision, Acting State Supreme Court Justice Steven Jaeger denied the village's request to dismiss the case brought by Bonefish Grill, which accused the board of being "onerous, arbitrary and capricious."

Jaeger also would not remove himself from the case as the village asked because a restaurant lawyer, Michael Zapson, was one of nine "honorary chairs" on Jaeger's re-election campaign letterhead.

On that issue, Jaeger, who lost his re-election Tuesday, said in his decision that, under the law, it is his choice to make on removal and "the Court believes it can and will preside impartially over these proceedings."

The restaurant at the southwest corner of Sunrise Highway and Morris Avenue had been a vacant 700-seat movie theater.

To get a required building permit, Bonefish sought and received a conditional variance for parking from the zoning board on March 22, 2013, then the building permit itself on the following Oct. 11.

By March 2014, the restaurant was substantially completed, costing more than $1 million, said court papers.

That same month, the village told the restaurant it would not issue a Certificate of Occupancy on the grounds that the building had not been completed in a timely manner, a new parking variance was needed, as well as a newly enacted Substantial Occupancy Permit for restaurants with more than 50 seats.

The restaurant went back to the zoning board and got the variances and the permit but with extensive conditions -- including a ban on serving lunch.

Bonefish called the conditions "onerous" and filed the action now before Jaeger.

Responses to the decision must be filed in the court by Dec. 3.

Spokeswoman Julie Scully said the village was "disappointed" in the decision.

"Nonetheless, the Village is confident that . . . the court will conclude that the Village acted properly in imposing [the] conditions."

Zapson had no comment but referred Newsday to Bonefish spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts in Tampa, Florida. She did not return calls.

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