Final approval for Layyah due in January

Layyah, the convenience store on the southeast corner of Front and Fourth streets in Greenport, is expected to win approval from the Planning Board Jan. 6, according to building inspector Eileen Wingate. The vote will be a mere formality, and the store in the meantime has been operating legally, because Planning Board members gave a verbal okay in October to owners Dr. Fehim Uyanik and his wife, Amy, and store operator Imran Khan, Ms. Wingate said.

When Layyah opened this summer without a certificate of occupancy, the building department slapped the owners with notices of violation. The Uyaniks were given an appearance ticket to answer the violation, but before they went to court, the couple and their attorney, Michael Solomon, began working out details with the building department to obtain a CO. It will be issued once the Uyaniks have finished a checklist of changes that are still required, Ms. Wingate said.

“The village has no mechanism for imposing fines” for the period when the store was operating without a CO, she said.

“They were always willing to fix the problem; we just had to identify what the problem was,” Ms. Wingate said of the store owners.

Neighbors had complained about the store’s plan to operate 24 hours, seven days a week, and about traffic that would be exiting onto Fourth Street, in a residential neighborhood that includes the Congregation Tifereth Israel synagogue, diagonally across from Layyah.

Jeanne Cadden, who owns a house just south of the store, also complained about potential problems with noise, litter and possible flooding onto her property from the store’s hard-topped parking lot.

As for Layyah’s hours of operation, that’s outside the village code, Ms. Wingate said. But she speculated that the store operator might find staying open all night not worth the effort.
In a pre-approval inspection, Ms. Wingate said she had presented the owners with “quite a laundry list of things that need to happen.” Theses included permanent signage; elimination of flags, banners and extraneous advertising; and other changes inside and outside the building. Despite the fact that the CO hasn’t yet been issued, Ms. Wingate said, Mr. Khan had the village’s permission to continue store operation while steps are being taken to make these changes.

“It’s all going to come together here very quickly,” Ms. Wingate said.

One issue still pending if the owners wish to sell beer is an application to the State Liquor Authority for a license. Dr. Micah Kaplan, Tifereth Israel’s board president, has objected to liquor sales because state regulations prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages within 200 feet of a religious institution.
Previously, the site was a tasting room for the now defunct Ternhaven Cellars winery. Ternhaven’s operator, Harold Watts, said no question had ever been raised by either the congregation or the SLA about the winery’s proximity to the synagogue.

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