Abatelli fed up

06/03/2010 12:00 AM |

David Abatelli says he’s mad as hell and he’s not going to take it any longer.

The Greenport Village administrator found himself caught between Village Board members who want him to finesse situations with merchants who don’t adhere to site plans and Planning Board members who want him to cite the offenders and, if necessary, stop work on their projects.

Mr. Abatelli exploded Thursday night, having been pushed by village attorney Joseph Prokop to enforce the rules more strictly, and by Planning Board members who are tired of volunteering time to review projects only to have their directives ignored.

“I really don’t know any more what to do in this job,” he said. “I don’t know what the right thing to do is.”

Mr. Abatelli was in the midst of updating Planning Board members on several projects in progress when Mr. Prokop interrupted him to complain about Third Street being blocked off by work vehicles involved with the gas tank installation at Mr. Roberts convenience store.

The work was supposed to have been done earlier in the day but had gotten delayed, Mr. Abatelli explained.

“What am I supposed to do,” he asked the attorney, send home all the workers because of the delay?

“I just don’t want to go out of this meeting and go to the Village Board that asks why I’m stopping projects,” Mr. Abatelli continued.

He has been criticized as hostile to business interests at Village Board work sessions, particularly by Trustees Michael Osinski and Chris Kempner. He noted that just a few months ago, there was a lot of concern about empty storefronts on Front Street, but most have since been occupied. He and building inspector Eileen Wingate are trying to be merchant-friendly, he said.

Support for Mr. Abatelli came from a surprising source. “We’re not here for an inquisition,” said Richard Trowbridge. As the man hired to record meetings and takes minutes for the various boards, Dr. Trowbridge has watched the barrage of criticisms and, apparently, couldn’t hold his tongue any longer. He told Mr. Abatelli he thinks he’s doing a good job and shouldn’t have to put up with all the criticism.

Although Planning Board chairwoman Lara McNeil said she thought the Mr. Roberts project had never been approved, she forgot that new owners Ali and Gina Sahin, represented by former mayor Dave Kapell, had won Planning Board approval last August to have the gas tanks installed. Mr. Kapell had promised the board that the Sahins would be good neighbors.

Another client of Mr. Kapell’s, Dr. Fehim Uyanik — who got approval from the board to lease his building at Front and Fourth streets for use as a convenience store — troubled board members Thursday when Mr. Abatelli reported that the store parking lot doesn’t conform to the site plan. Lines drawn to mark parking spaces allow for one more spot than the board approved and there’s concern that a vehicle parked in that spot could be easily damaged by others pulling in or out of the lot. Board members said they want the lines repainted to adhere to the original site plan.

In other matters, board members told applicant Bruce Garritano that he could expect approval of his application to rent a scooter and bike rental shop at 124 Front St. They also told applicant Melissa Elkins that she could expect an okay on her application to operate the Metro Cafe in the Greenport Theatre building. The board’s formal approval is expected at tonight’s meeting.

Ms. Elkins revealed that she is already open and said she was told that would be acceptable by Ms. Wingate. Mr. Garritano complained that another week’s delay would cause him to miss the Memorial Day weekend, but said if he gets approval June 3, he could count on having his business up and running within about two weeks.

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