Anthony Punnett of Southampton is willing to make a deal with Southampton Village.
If the board gives Punnett the green light to transform his imposing brick building at 200 North Sea Road into a restaurant, he won’t build a second, already-approved 1,200-square-foot building on the property, his attorney told village trustees last week.
The only hitch is that the village trustees fear the new restaurant could mimic existing ones in the municipality, which transform into rowdy clubs after dinner.
“We’ve had some recent issues with noise,” said Trustee Richard Yastrzemski at the village board meeting last week. “Restaurants have become nightclubs.”
Yastrzemski said that Nello Summertimes turns into a club at night, while Epley said today that similar situations exist at the and , though many issues have been resolved through code enforcement.
The board decided to have Punnett apply to the village Zoning Board of Appeals. The board will bring the matter to a public hearing, allowing the neighbors to have their say. The building is bordered by railroad tracks on the north, to the west and homes to the east, said Gil Flanagan of Southampton, Punnett’s attorney.
Flanagan said that his client has permission to build a 97-seat restaurant at 200 North Sea Road, which is a 5,000-square-foot former power station. Punnett needs a special exception permit from the village to bring the plan to fruition.
A number of potential restaurant tenants have already contacted Punnett about the location, though he declined to name them. After seeing the economy wreak havoc on the commercial real estate market, Punnett opted not to follow his plans for an office building at the location. Punnett originally intended to expand 200 North Sea Road to 9,000 square feet and build the second 1,200-square-foot building, Flanagan said.
Village Attorney Richard DePetris said the troublesome venues were operating as restaurants-slash-clubs prior to the adoption of the current village code. Punnett’s restaurant would have to conform to new code, which explicitly prohibits a club atmosphere, he said at the meeting.
The village’s definition of a restaurant is an establishment whose sole purpose is serving food for dining and serving alcoholic beverages with meals, DePetris said.
“We have a very strict definition of a restaurant,” DePetris said. “A restaurant approved cannot become a club use.”
Trustee Bonnie Cannon asked about the possibility of a chain restaurant moving into the location: ““Could we have something like Hooters there?” she said.
DePetris said that the code does not distinguish between chain and independently owned restaurants, leaving the possibility of a Hooters open.