Board approves amended Michelangelo’s Pizzeria site plan in split vote

12/07/2018 5:55 AM |

Though behind schedule, plans for a Michelangelo’s Pizzeria on East Main Street are progressing.

The Town Board approved an amended site plan for the restaurant at a meeting Tuesday.

An original site plan application that included renovations to the façade of the existing building and landscaping, lighting and signage improvements on the one-acre parcel was adopted Oct. 2.

The applicant and co-owner, Dean Spitaleri, returned to the Town Board during a work session last Thursday seeking an amendment to the site plan to allow for a different material and finish on the building’s façade.

“There was some difficulty because the original material that the ARB and Landmarks had recommended was unsafe to be placed on the building, so for safety reasons they needed to switch to another material,” Laura Jens-Smith explained before taking a vote Tuesday.

The amended site plan was approved 3-1; Councilman Tim Hubbard was absent.

According to Mr. Spitaleri, both the Landmarks Preservation Commission and Architectural Review Board advised that they keep the existing marble on the building.

“I was willing to keep the old marble,” he said. But a consultant working on the project raised concerns with the plan. “He said ‘That will not work. Water will seep in, you will have a problem,’ ” Mr. Spitaleri said, adding that it could be dangerous since the existing marble is in bad shape.

During the work session, he proposed covering the tower and archway with a high-impact exterior insulation and finish system mesh that could be made to resemble marble. 

“Half of Route 58 is EIFS, and it’s not all that attractive. It’s blasé,” said Councilman Tim Hubbard at the work session. However, he said he’d be open to seeing the imitation marble finish.

Mr. Spitaleri and his business partner returned hours later with a sample for the Town Board to review.

“They were so anxious, it was still wet,” when they brought in the sample, said Mr. Wooten. “It looked really nice.”

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she did not have an opportunity to review the sample despite rushing to Town Hall last Thursday afternoon. “The Town Board had already signed off on the sample and the sample was gone,” she said, casting a “no” vote on the amended site plan.

“I think the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Architectural Review Board should have had an opportunity to look at the final sample before we approve this,” she added.

Several Town Board members agreed. “This one particular building has jumped through so many hoops, so many setbacks through regulations, oversight … Normally it moves pretty smoothly, but this has been arduous for [the applicants],” Mr. Wooten argued.

Mr. Spitaleri had originally proposed a November opening for the restaurant, formerly home to Sonoma Grill and The Riverhead Project.

“We were really holding up this project in an unfair way,” Councilwoman Catherine Kent said. 

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