Starting in June, the restaurant at the Blue Inn in East Marion will be able to serve food to outside guests.
That’s because the Southold Town Zoning Board of Appeals last week granted a special exception for the restaurant to expand its food service. Previously, the Blue Inn was permitted to serve food and drinks only to guests at the year-round motel.
The exemption, which initially did not sit well with nearby residents, was approved with more than a dozen operating conditions, including:
• The restaurant can only open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from June 1 through Labor Day.
• No outdoor music can be played after 9 p.m. and the bar needs to close at 11 p.m.
• Small events are also permitted until 9 p.m.
• The restaurant is subject to a 48-person occupancy limit.
• A parking attendant must be hired to manage traffic.
• The restaurant cannot be advertised.
If current owner Sam Glass were to sell the motel, a future owner would have to refi le for a special exception to open the restaurant to the public, according to the ZBA.
The decision comes after three months of public hearings on the proposal. In its decision, the ZBA stated “the safety, health, welfare, comfort, convenience or order of the town will not be adversely affected by the proposed use and its location. The terms agreed to by the applicant and the Town of Southold are designed to protect and promote the peaceful coexistence of the motel and the residential properties in the neighborhood.”
The list of conditions comes in response to concerns from members of the East Marion Community Association.
Neighbors said the new plan is reminiscent of concerns they had about the motel under its previous ownership, when the restaurant was also open to the public. In a letter sent to the ZBA in mid-September, neighbors Joseph Zizzo and Maria Capotorto said the motel functioned like an “illegally constructed outdoor nightclub” under the previous owner, who sold the motel to Mr. Glass more than two years ago.
Activities at the motel inspired the East Marion Community Association to lead the push to pass Southold Town’s first noise ordinance nearly three years ago.
In a statement Monday, the association said it’s pleased with the ZBA’s decision.
“The East Marion Community Association applauds the Southold Town ZBA for its diligence in embracing the concerns expressed in our letter to them regarding The Blue Inn and future business development in East Marion,” said EMCA board member Jackie McKee. “In granting The Blue Inn’s request for special exemption, the board has incorporated conditions for compliance into the permit which address the concerns of our community while offering more latitude to the owner for increasing revenue. We trust that, in the spirit of community, Mr. Glass will honor those conditions.”
Mr. Glass said opening the restaurant to the public is necessary to sustain the business and he’s pleased with the board’s decision.
“I am grateful [the ZBA] took the time to read our application and the testimonials,” he said. “I was quite happy to hear about it because we need to have a restaurant. We want the neighbors and the community to be able to attend and to be happy with it.”
Mr. Glass said he is currently in the process of finding a part-time chef and designing an affordable menu.