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Vote on New Rochelle Cabaret Permit Pushed to October

Siete Ocho Siete has applied for a cabaret license for its Pelham Road restaurant.

Vote on New Rochelle Cabaret Permit Pushed to October

The decision whether to grant a cabaret license to a Pelham Road restaurant will likely wait until October.

Mayor Noam Bramson said proper notification of a public hearing to neighbors of Siete Ocho Siete, which serves Puerto Rican cuisine, did not go out in time.

As a result, Wednesday's public hearing was left open and will recommence at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9.

Siete Ocho Siete, which is located where Mama Francesca's was, applied for a special permit for a cabaret license. The City Council voted itself lead agency in the matter. The New Rochelle Planning Board recommended the council approve the special permit. Mama Francesca Restaurant Corp. is doing business as Siete Ocho Siete, according to the application.

The city may issue a permit if the occupancy limit does not exceed 250 persons and complies with such requirements as noise abatement and identifying the impact on residences and businesses within a 500-foot radius of the establishment.

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Located within that 500-foot radius are single- and multi-family residences, a shopping center and United Hebrew of New Rochelle. 

About 20 people spoke during the public hearing Wednesday. Most said they had no problem having the restaurant in that location. A few said they hoped the restaurant would not close. The problem was the cabaret.

New Rochelle resident Bill Mullen said it was not about being against the Puerto Rican culture or about bars.

"It's about a cabaret that is open all night," he said. "If it were an Irish club, I would feel the same way."

Mullen said allowing a cabaret in a neighborhood business district would be a clash of values.

"The value of a quiet evening and peaceful night," he said," is in conflict with the value of the idea of 'party till the cock crows,' and that's what we have here: a party till the cock crows."

Patrons of the restaurant, who have reportedly been leaving the establishment and continuing their evening on the grounds of a nearby apartment complex, have made one New Rochelle resident uneasy.

"I felt safe here until this year," said Janet Zeller. "I am now afraid to walk from my parking space to my lobby door. No cabaret license, please."

Wynne Ennis, who lives in the same complex as Zeller, read and presented a petition urging the council to deny the special permit.

She cited the loud music, both in and outside the restaurant, noisy and drunk patrons going into and leaving the restaurant and litter left in the shopping center as some reasons the cabaret license is not wanted.

"Parking has now become a problem at the shopping center and on neighborhood streets," Ennis said. "And valets speeding across Pelham Road create hazardous conditions."

Lisa Davis, president of the Residence Park Neighborhood Association,  said locating a cabaret within neighborhood was, by definition, counter to the city's zoning.

"The city has worked diligently on the zoning code," she said, "and a neighborhood business district serves the retail, personal services and office uses located in those residential neighborhoods.

"Including the provision of adequate on-site parking, a restaurant is an allowable and desirable business," Davis said.

Not so, for a cabaret, she said.

"The appropriate place for a cabaret is in a downtown business district which has the structure to handle it," Davis said.

She said the neighborhood has had a preview of how the restaurant would impact the area since it has been operating as a cabaret without the license.

"We have already experienced these disruptions during the few months that Siete Ocho Siete operated as a cabaret without a license with calls to police and the owners being cited for multiple issues," Davis said.

"Residence Park doesn't need a nightclub," she said, "and we ask that you oppose the request for a cabaret license for Siete Ocho Siete."

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