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Feb 22, 2017 10:46 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Looks To Modify Code To Allow Restaurants To Have Bar Areas Legally

Southampton Village Trustee spoke in favor of changing the definition of a restaurant in the village code, at the board's meeting on Tuesday, February 21. BY GREG WEHNER
Mar 1, 2017 10:01 AM

The Southampton Village Board is considering updates to a 40-year-old element of the village’s zoning code that prevents a restaurant from having an accessory tavern or a bar area—something that several establishments in the village have had for years.

At the February 21 work session, board members discussed a resolution that would rescind the prohibition and permit restaurants to have a bar area that is separate from the dining area.

The old definition of a restaurant in the code reads: “A restaurant shall not be construed to include any form of drive-in, open-front or curb service eating establishments, or any form of tavern, bar, nightclub or similar entertainment establishment.” If modified, board members would only be removing the restriction of “taverns and bars,” while continuing to forbid nightclubs and similar entertainment-type establishments, drive-ins, and open-front or curb service eating establishments.

“The purpose is to make sure that our code is correct,” Village Board member Nancy McGann said of the legislation. “I think that right now it isn’t, because any restaurant that you look at has a separate single-standing bar that someone can go and sit at and have a drink, and this law is not reflective of that.”

A second proposed change in the zoning code addresses the matter of brewing beer for consumption at a restaurant, which was never mentioned in the original definition of a restaurant.

Village Attorney Richard DePetris said that when the code was originally written, brewing beer in a restaurant probably was not a concern, but it is now. Southampton Publick House, before moving to its current location on Jobs Lane, brewed beer onsite at its old location on Bowden Square.

The code modification will allow places like the Publick House to brew on location for consumption, legally, but only as a special exception. That means the applicant would have to go to the Southampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals to get approval.

While brewing operations have ceased at Bowden Square, the owner of Union Cantina, the restaurant at the Publick House’s former location, where the brewing equipment remains temporarily, said he isn’t worried about the new code revisions.

“It seems that the code change is really more just to allow what has already been going on for quite some time,” said Ian Duke, who also owns the Southampton Social Club. “It really is more the village straightening out their wording, it seems.”

A public hearing to discuss the proposed code modifications further will be held at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 21, at Village Hall.

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