By PHIIL NOBILE
Banding together to battle against a popular local bar and restaurant, some village residents have taken steps to stop Molly Spillane’s from getting a permit renewed in order to operate its business.
The restaurant, located in the heart of the village’s commercial district on the corner of Mamaroneck and Prospect avenues, is up for a renewal of its special use permit before the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals. At its June 5 meeting, the board held a public hearing on the matter, leading to members of the community, both for and against keeping the business open, to show up in numbers.
Arguing quality of life issues due to noisy nights and loud sports games, Kate Priest, an 11-year Prospect Avenue resident, has led the charge of a concentrated community group against awarding the business its renewed permit.
Like all restaurants in the downtown district, Molly Spillane’s requires a yearly review of its business and renewal of its permits by the Zoning Board of Appeals to operate, according to acting Building Inspector Robert Hughes.
Neighbors like Priest and others are hoping this year’s renewal will yield a different verdict than in years prior.
“I’ve talked to our neighbors who are sick and tired of Molly Spillane’s lack of consideration for our neighborhood after years of complaints,” Priest said. “We want action taken by whatever means to reduce Molly Spillane’s noise and negative impact on our neighborhood.”
According to Priest, 148 complaints from local residents between 2011 and 2013 have been filed with the village, ranging from noise complaints and concerns about activity from drunk customers.
Despite the large amount of complaints, no violations have been leveled against the business—a point that Paul Noto, attorney for Molly Spillane’s, stressed.
“We are in compliance with the conditions that this board has imposed over the years; there have been no violations issued against Molly Spillane’s for violating the laws of the village,” Noto said. “It’s a select number of people who have raised some concerns, and Molly Spillane’s has done everything they can.”
Having its special use permit, which allows the business to function, renewed each year since opening in 2009, the business has faced no shortage of criticism from members of the community in the ensuing years.
Contending petitions from each side of the bar battle were offered to zoning board members at their most recent meeting. On behalf of the neighbors, Priest had a written petition of 183 village residents against the restaurant.
Noto and Mike Hynes, owner of Molly Spillane’s, had an online petition with more than 600 signatures as of press time.
Priest and other critical residents suggested the restaurant take measures beyond simply adhering to the code to alleviate traveling sound and vibrations that, according to the residents, have caused sleep and health issues.
“There are things that Molly Spillane’s can do, like hire an audio engineer to install sound-reducing materials in the restaurant. They can also go out in the neighborhood and listen and turn the volume down,” Priest said. “As it is now, we are constantly kept awake by pounding vibrations that are very detrimental to people’s health.”
Noto and Hynes have said that they would offer to take measures like putting up a sound barrier of some sort, but added that they have taken other measures since the opening of the restaurant more than five years ago.
“I am worried about noise too,” Hynes said, referring to noise travelling within his business. “When we built Molly Spillane’s, we specifically used an acoustic ceiling sheetrock. We spent over $75,000 to make sure sound doesn’t travel.”
Despite the majority of concerned community members consisting of residents from The Regatta, an apartment building located at 123 Mamaroneck Ave., board members of the apartment’s association declined to take a side on the issue.
“While the Board of Directors sympathizes with the plight of these residents, it has decided not to take a position in regards to their issues,” Brian Gassick, the president of the board of Regatta Condominium Association, said. “The board remains a neutral party, and would like to resolve these issues in partnership with both sides.”
With the public hearing closed, the Zoning Board of Appeals will decide whether or not to grant Molly Spillane’s its permit renewal at its Aug. 7 meeting.