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Anker is looking to add outdoor restaurants along Front Street

Will the proposed outdoor seating at Anker in Greenport encroach on public sidewalk space?

Members of the Greenport Village Planning Board are seeking to answer that question before approving the Front Street restaurant’s application.

Christoph Mueller, owner of Anker, Alpina and Green Hill Kitchen, submitted a request to add outdoor seating outside the Anker building on a concrete patio under an existing canopy.

According to architect Ryan Sidor, calculations determined that there was enough room for five seats in front of the restaurant and current plans show that these seats are split between two tables.

“They had just redone the front of the restaurant and I think they had temporary seating there for [COVID-19] and it was something that attracted them and drew people into the restaurant,” Mr. Sidor explained.

In 2020 and 2021, Greenport Village officials and members of the Business Improvement District collaborated on “parklets,” a pandemic-era dining plan that allowed restaurants to expand outdoor seating. According to the BID, the structures occupied a total of 51 parking spaces in 2020 and 55 in 2021.

Earlier this year, the village council voted against their return, citing mainly safety and traffic concerns. Many business owners felt the parklets made the village more walkable and served as an economic lifeline to stay afloat during the pandemic.

Planning Board member Patricia Hammes noted that the plans only showed two chairs at each table. “It’s hard to see where there’s a place to put a third chair on one of those tables that wouldn’t encroach on the sidewalk,” Ms. Hammes said.

Board member Lily Dougherty-Johnson said the setup would likely mean employees would have to stand on the sidewalk to serve people. “It’s a bustling area,” she says.

Mr. Sidor explained that the size of the tables could be changed to address these concerns and also noted that there will be no outside speakers in this space and there are currently no plans to extend the awning. “These are just placeholder tables,” he said.

Planners also expressed concern about the proposed seating’s proximity to existing accessible sidewalk ramps and its impact on access to the front door. “There must be sufficient clearance at the top of each handicap ramp as a landing zone,” said village planning consultant Laura Feitner Calarco. “Without dimensions in this area, it is even difficult to analyze whether this could be a potential problem or not,” she added.

Planning Commission Chairman Walter Foote suggested that the claimants submit amended plans to address these concerns before a hearing can take place.

He said the most important thing for them to clarify is whether the fifth seat will “spread” onto the public sidewalk. “You might have to do a little more homework to confirm that’s the case,” he said.

Applicants have two weeks to submit amended site plans before the next Planning Board meeting and interim hearing on July 28.

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