The new owners of Rockwell's Bar and Grill are facing resistance from local residents in their attempt to legalize an outdoor dining space before warm weather arrives.
Peter Trink, a new co-owner of Rockwell's Bar and Grill in Smithtown, went before the Smithtown Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday night in efforts to legalize an outdoor dining area with a special exception permit.
Trink said he was unaware Rockwell's outdoor dining are did not have proper town permits when he took over the business. However, it plays a crucial role in his business's success.
"The restaurant business is a competitive business in the town, the owners need every advantage to attract customers and enhance their business. It's an asset to the town to have a thriving business community," said John Gleason, a St. James architect working for Rockwell's.
Smithtown residents living near the bar complained of loud noise frequently coming from the bar, interfering with their quality of life.
"The establishment, as a resident, it can't control its patrons on the inside of the establishment, let alone on the outside if the variance is granted for an outside dining area," said Richard Torre Jr., vice president of Coventry Village's homeowner association and public communication officer for the Smithtown Fire Department.
Torre said there have been 11 separate reports made to Suffolk County Police Department for noise coming from Rockwell's Bar and Grill over the past 2 1/2 years. The noise is coming from dj music, cars, motorcycles and fights taking place outside the bar.
In addition, three separate letters were sent to John Valentine, Smithtown's Public Safety director, about noise complaints and burglaries allegedly stemming from the bar's patrons, according to Torre.
Under Smithtown's town code, businesses and residents are allowed to have music or loud noise until 11 p.m.
"It does change the character of the neighborhood if you approve it. Even if they adhere to the 11 p.m., it makes most of the evening unusable to us as a neighborhood," said Smithtown resident Phillip Eng. " It's more than an outdoor restaurant/dining area, it's somewhere people are drinking and the music is unbearable."
Eng said the music is also audible in the surrounding neighborhood when Rockwell's doors are open.
Trink said despite most residents referring to Rockwell's as a bar, it does as much business as a restaurant. He said the problems reported with loud bands outside the restaurant occured before he took over ownership.
Smithtown Planning department have made several suggestions to Trink for changes to the outside of the property that could help decrease the noise heard by the surrounding neighborhood. However, if Rockwell's leases the property, all changes would have to be taken up with the landlord.