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Criticisms arise amid B&B discussion

JULIE LANE PHOTO

A Village Board discussion Monday on allowing bed and breakfast operators to offer five rooms, two more than currently permitted, quickly turned to criticism of a B&B neighbors said has turned into a catering business.

Opposing the code change, Walter Tilford of Fourth Street told the board B&B operators already exceed the limit. He and several others accused Harbor Knoll owners Leueen and Gordon Miller of renting more than three rooms and advertising on their website a full wedding event for up to 80 people, a morning breakfast or brunch the day after the wedding for up to 40 people and five on-site guest rooms plus a separate cottage for the bride and groom. The package also includes a catered reception with music to 11 p.m. and an after-party until 1 a.m.

Mr. Tilford is one of about 10 neighbors who live along a 15-foot-wide pebble, dirt and grass path off Fourth Street that leads to their homes and ends at Harbor Knoll.

While admitting that she offers up to four rooms in her nine-room home overlooking Greenport Harbor, Ms. Miller said, “I don’t do anything to excess.” Ms. Miller is chairwoman of the village beautification committee.

She acknowledged holding a few weddings at Harbor Knoll but said one was for her daughter and another for the daughter of a close friend.

Her neighbors said they don’t object to the occasional party. But the B&B has expanded “into a full-blown wedding business,” said Kerry Robinson.

That intrudes on the quality of life, Mr. Tilford said. He added that the inconvenience isn’t just for a few hours during the wedding itself. For a day or two before the event, trucks deliver tents, chairs, food, liquor and other necessities.

On the day of a wedding, buses bring guests from other establishments, and late at night, guests who have had too much to drink wander off the Harbor Knoll property and onto neighbors’ property, he said. Music blares until well after 1 a.m., he told the board. And when the party breaks up, vans arrive to pick up musical instruments and other items. The next day, after guests depart, a parade of trucks comes to remove the tent, chairs and other equipment and supplies.

Given the narrowness of the pathway, there isn’t room for two-way traffic and emergency vehicles wouldn’t be able to get to the houses if needed, he said.

“I’m really concerned about the quality of life,” Roz Calvert said. She, too, lives along the lane leading to Harbor Knoll and said she needs quiet for her writing work.

Gary Charters, whose Main Street home sits on the corner of Bridge Street across from the Morning Glory B&B, complained that guests there who are supposed to park on-site often leave their cars on the road and even park on his grass.

Morning Glory owner Renata Wilhelm said in an interview that Mr. Charters’ complaints are unfounded and that there was only one incident involving a trolley driver who didn’t know where he was supposed to park. When guests first arrive, they do often park on the street, but she informs them to use the on-site parking, she said.

“We do our best,” Ms. Wilhelm said.

“I’m burdened enough already by having a business jammed down my throat,” Mr. Charters told the board, objecting to an expansion of the number of rooms B&Bs would be allowed to offer.

If you want to adhere to state codes, why not change the speed limit to 55 in the village, Mr. Charters said, reminding board members that the reason they have an incorporated village is to make decisions locally that fit with Greenport’s ambiance.
Mayor David Nyce promised Mr. Charters and Harbor Knoll neighbors that he’ll have village administrator David Abatelli look into the situations they described. The mayor also kept the hearing open for further discussion at the June 27 Village Board meeting.

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