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Patchogue tackles downtown parking problem

Mid afternoon, one of the closest public parking

Mid afternoon, one of the closest public parking lots to Main Street, Lot 5, is completely full. Parking in downtown Patchogue is notoriously limited an it takes up to 180 days to accept a shopkeepers application to enact new parking. (July 9, 2013). Credit: Jeffrey Basinger

The Patchogue Village Board has passed a moratorium on applications for new construction projects downtown that do not include adequate parking.

The 6-0 vote at Monday's board meeting means the village will not accept applications from businesses seeking to expand or increase occupancy for up to six months, until village leaders can craft a new strategy for parking downtown. Village officials have given themselves 180 days to come up with a plan for addressing the parking problems.

"We need to get some control of what's happening," village Mayor Paul Pontieri said during the meeting. "We need to slow this train down; we're starting to run over ourselves."

The board proposed the moratorium last month, and by law, it required review by the Suffolk County Planning Commission, which approved the measure on July 3, village officials said.

Historically, the village has never required downtown businesses to find their own parking, as they were allowed to use municipal lots, village attorney Brian Egan said.

But the village's growth and increasing popularity have limited access to the village's roughly 2,100 parking spaces. So, the days of downtown businesses relying on municipal parking are over, Egan said.

Several other Suffolk County villages, including East Hampton, Babylon and Port Jefferson, have similar parking problems, Egan said.

Egan said that after six months, trustees Lori Devlin and William Hilton, who are behind the push for parking solutions, are expected to come up with a plan to solve the parking woes.

"We need to catch our breath as a village and evaluate the situation," Devlin said. "The feedback that we've been getting from residents and business owners is that there is a parking problem. And as these businesses in the downtown business district seek to expand, there isn't a mechanism for them to provide their own parking."

Egan said early options include having business owners pay into a parking fund or charging businesses for using a specific number of parking spaces.

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