By JACKSON CHEN
In an attempt to alleviate the continued tension between local residents and popular Mamaroneck Avenue bar and restaurant Molly Spillane’s, the Village of Mamaroneck’s Zoning Board of Appeals met Aug. 7 to discuss the possibility of a permit renewal.
Despite being in the process of drafting a final resolution, the board seemed ready to grant Molly Spillane’s a shortened, one-year renewal on its special use permit.
The necessary special use permit allowing the business to operate in a mixed-use area that blends residential and commercial space normally lasts for two years. Due to recent controversy, the zoning board limited Molly Spillane’s permit to a year. It has been several years since the zoning board first regulated Molly Spillane’s after neighborhood complaints followed the restaurant’s opening in 2009
“[Molly Spillane’s owner Mike Hynes has] a business; he wants to make his customers happy,” zoning board member David Neufeld said. “So let’s give him some guidelines, give him a year and maybe it’ll work.”
For the year of the shortened permit, the board may subject Molly Spillane’s to three new conditions aimed at reducing noise at night.
During the meeting, the board agreed to force the restaurant to close its patio at 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends as opposed to the current 2 a.m. closing times. The board also wants Molly Spillane’s to close its windows at certain times or when the bar plays music. To enforce the window closure, the board suggested locks or an alarm system.
During the meeting, board member Barry Werpin said he was wary of the window stipulation.
“God forbid something happens and they find out the fault is because someone couldn’t unlock the window,” he said.
The new proposal to lock the windows came from the poor enforcement of one of the previous conditions the board set for Molly Spillane’s. The establishment was to close windows after 11 p.m. or if music was playing, but Hynes said he couldn’t prevent his customers from re-opening the windows after they are closed.
Previously, Molly Spillane’s was also required to prohibit amplified music outside the restaurant after 11 p.m.
Cliff Henry, a lifetime resident of Mamaroneck, believed the zoning board’s conditions to be too strict. Critical of locking the windows, Henry said it will cause a fire hazard.
“I think it’s the zoning board trying to appease people,” Henry, a frequent customer at Molly Spillane’s, said. “I’m friends with the owners; they’re good guys.”
Henry said he would continue frequenting Molly Spillane’s regardless of new conditions that might be imposed.
“I would absolutely still go there,” Henry said. “It’s one of my hometown places.”
Village resident Kate Priest does not see things Henry’s way.
Priest has worked adamantly for harsher regulations on Molly Spillane’s. In the past, she gathered 183 signatures over four petitions in an effort to inform the zoning board the noise issue expanded beyond the bar’s immediate vicinity.
Priest and her supporters, a local coalition of roughly 25 neighbors, were overjoyed at the proposed restrictions in the new special permit.
“I consider this a major victory for the neighborhood coalition and quality of life here in the Village of Mamaroneck, and we hope that this trend continues,” Priest, who has lived at her Prospect Avenue home for 11 years, said.
With this victory pending, Priest is satisfied, but now awaits finalization of the board’s resolution.
Other neighbors, like Lucia Tatavitto, were happy with the conditions, but skeptical the village police department would actually enforce the conditions.
“If [Mike Hynes] is breaking the law, why in all these years have there been no summons and no fines,” Tatavitto, who partly blamed the police department for the ongoing problems she has with Molly Spillane’s, said. “If that was me making all that racket at two or three in the morning, wouldn’t the cops close me down?”
In the end, many neighbors don’t want to see Molly Spillane’s shut down, just adjust to the environment.
“We never wanted them to be denied their permit; we thought that was extreme,” Priest said. “We want them to be a good neighbor in the community and follow the requirements of their permit and the village code.”
The details of the final resolution on Molly Spillane’s will be available on Sept. 4, when the zoning board meets again.
Hynes declined to comment for this story.