After weeks of debate, the Westhampton Beach Village Trustees have granted outdoor dining and music permits to the Beach Bakery on Main Street with the stipulation that owner Simon Jorna must meet with the village Planning Board later this week to again discuss his future expansion plans.
At last Thursday night’s meeting, a public hearing was opened regarding the proposed permits after Mr. Jorna failed to file a completed application with the Westhampton Beach Planning Board for renovations to his business that would fix outstanding violations to the building. One year ago, Mr. Jorna was told he would not receive outdoor dining and music permits for the 2012 summer season if he did not have permits authorized by May 1, 2012, to complete the renovation unless he could provide a valid reason why he had failed to do so.
As of earlier this week, Mr. Jorna had still not submitted a final application to the Planning Board.
The violations include the illegal conversion of a three-bedroom second-floor apartment to a five-bedroom dwelling, and the placement of a storage trailer behind the business, according to village officials. The latest version of the proposed expansion would also legalize the conversion of the bakery from a 12-seat luncheonette to a 32-seat restaurant.
During last week’s hearing, Mr. Jorna chose to have his attorney, J. Bradford Keneally of Massapequa, address the board on his behalf.
“In hindsight, it is unreasonable to expect a site plan to be reviewed in the time specified last year,” Mr. Keneally said. “We respectfully request that the application [for outdoor dining and music] be approved for another year with the same terms and conditions that were attached last year.”
During the hearing, Village Board member Hank Tucker addressed Mr. Jorna, explaining why the trustees were hesitant to sign off on the requested permits. The violations filed against Mr. Jorna and his business date back to 2001.
“Our problem, and I believe I speak for my fellow board members here, is how long you have been in violation of village code,” he said. “We recognize that you are doing something to fix those violations, but our concern is how long it has been.
“We want them fixed,” he continued. “We know if you get your permits that will happen, but what if you don’t get your permits? Will you remedy these violations right away?”
Both Mr. Jorna and his attorney said if they are unable to secure the necessary Suffolk County Health Department permits to expand the business, and are ultimately forced to withdraw their application with the village, that they would still fix the outstanding violations.
Mayor Conrad Teller also confirmed during the hearing that should Mr. Jorna fail to receive his Planning Board permits, or if he should withdraw his application for any reason, the dining and music permits would be immediately revoked.
Before the trustees voted whether to award the outdoor dining and music permits, board member Sue Farrell could be heard asking the other trustees which resolution they would be voting on, suggesting that they had not yet decided which way they would vote prior to last week’s meeting. In the end, they voted 4-1 in favor of granting the permits; Deputy Mayor Toni-Jo Birk opposed the resolution.
The trustees also decided that Mr. Jorna would not be allowed to immediately set up his tables. First, he must present a layout of his proposed outdoor tables to the Planning Board tonight, Thursday, May 10, for approval. If he meets the requirements of the board, he could have his tables set up as early as this weekend.
Also last week, Ms. Birk read into the record a timeline illustrating how long Mr. Jorna’s expansion plans have been kicking around. She said she did this to show that contrary to rumors, the village was not holding up Mr. Jorna’s application before the Planning Board.
Toward the end of the hearing, village resident Dean Speir addressed the board regarding the number of extensions that have been granted to the business owner.
“The word on the street that it was the village holding this up was whispered by Simon himself,” Mr. Speir said. “I patronize the bakery, but I don’t like how long this has been going on and you keep giving him extensions. I think the village has been uncommonly accommodating in trying to get this done.”
Trustees Shock Richman
Also at last week’s meeting, the Village Board agreed to appoint special counsel, at the rate of $190 an hour, to appeal a court decision to drop a case against village business owner Elyse Richman.
Ms. Richman, who owns Shock’s Ice Cream and other Shock brand stores on Main Street, was involved in a legal battle with the village over a 6-foot-tall ice cream sculpture that she temporarily placed outside of her business two years ago as a decoration for a party. The sculpture, which was stolen from the property, was deemed a sign by village officials who imposed a $750 fine on Ms. Richman. Two weeks ago, the village court dropped the case.