A plan is in the works to turn the Route 6 Tap House building (formerly the site of Lantern Pub) into a series of retail stores and small eateries, as well as office space.
John Karell Jr., a Patterson-based engineer working for the applicants, recently went before the Planning Board to lay out an amended site plan, which calls for a 42-seat, high-turnover sit-down restaurant, a Carvel ice cream parlor, a cell phone store, a coffee shop and bakery and a fried-chicken (takeout only) store. Office space would be created on the building’s second floor.
Several variances would be needed for the project, a number of them regarding the parking lot and its aisle widths, as well as an easement for a part of the property that’s owned by the Mahopac School District. Permits are also needed from several agencies, including the state Department of Transportation (DOT), New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the county Department of Health.
Karell said a traffic study analyzing the traffic impact the new retail center would have on the area is being forwarded to the DOT for review and comment.
The second floor would be a 1,000-square-foot office, Karell told the board. The coffee shop/bakery would not be a “restaurant” but would be classified as “retail use without seats.”
“They will be repaving the parking lots and must address all the striping and dimensional requirements,” he added.
Karell said that half of an outdoor deck on the front of the building extends into a DOT right-of-way.
“The applicant intends to continue to use that, so they do need the DOT’s permission,” he noted.
Karell pointed out that the parking lot extends off the site and onto the neighboring school property. “There is either a license or an easement to allow that to be used,” he said.
Town officials said they are in discussion with the school district regarding that issue. Karell said that in the event an easement can’t be obtained, they have two other scenarios for parking and the aisle widths that would work instead.
Karell said he wanted to move forward with a public hearing on the project and didn’t feel it was necessary to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).
“Nothing has changed with respect to the building or the property lines,” he said.
But Mike Carnazza, the town’s code enforcement officer and building inspector, said it was indeed necessary.
“The building is not the same as it was for [the last] 50 years. The building has changed and [moved] forward. We are being given information a little bit at a time. That’s why we are asking for all these details,” he said. “It’s so you can get to the Zoning Board—if you need it, which you do at this point.”
Karell noted that the proposed plan falls as an “existing use” and town attorney Joe Charbonneau confirmed that “all the proposed uses are conforming uses.”
“The Lantern Pub was permitted for 171 seats, which produced 10 times the flow that will go into that septic system by this proposed use,” Karell pointed out. “We’ve met with the DOT and they recognized it’s an existing use. It’s just a matter of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.”
Still, Carnazza said the developers needed to address a series of comments from the town before the plan could move forward and wouldn’t get a referral to the ZBA until that is done.
Karell said the parking spaces are laid out and the number of spaces is in accordance with the code and a variance that was previously granted when it was the Lantern Pub.
“So, that shouldn’t be an issue,” he said.
But town engineer Rich Franzetti said that while this plan may involve an existing use, it is still different.
“I hear you say it’s an existing building; the Lantern Pub had it, but that was a single-use,” Franzetti said. “You have five uses now. How do you account for the safety of the pedestrians walking from their cars to any one of those five businesses at any given time? That should be considered. You haven’t addressed how pedestrians are going to move in and around there and what the safety issues are. Where are the doorways for the businesses, how are they getting in and out? How are people walking in there amidst all the parking?”
Planning Board member Kim Kugler shared those concerns.
“It’s a very busy floor plan. It seems like there is a lot of [foot] traffic coming in and out of this small space,” she said. “[Regarding the parking lot] that is a lot of car traffic, and a lot of foot traffic. I am thinking of the Kobu [Asian Bistro] parking lot and there is a lot of traffic going in and out of there. This is a smaller space with a lot of shops that seem to be popular types of shops.”
“There will be a sidewalk in the front just like when the Lantern Pub was there,” Karell responded. “There is nothing much else you can do for that building.”
Board Chairman Craig Paeprer said the property is in the heart of town, so it’s important that it be handled correctly.
“This is an important piece of property for us. It’s downtown and part of the revitalization,” he said. “We get one chance to do this right.”
Board members said they would like to see renderings of the exterior of the building, including a list of the types of materials that will be used.
Karell told the board he would address all its concerns and comments and provide sketches of what the building would look like at the next meeting.