Niagara Gazette

February 19, 2013

Patio's existence questioned by village attorney

by Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — One restaurant's outdoor patio is becoming a heated topic in the Village of Lewiston.

At Tuesday's Village Board meeting, village attorney Edward Jesella questioned The Village Pub's enclosure, in front of the restaurant and bar's Center Street location, and its classification as a temporary structure.

"It says it's supposed to be a temporary structure," Jesella said of The Pub's approval it received to build the structure in 2010. "But it hasn't come down. That means it's permanent."

Jesella has previously contended the patio was only approved for six months and was supposed to be removed after the initial time period expired. 

But The Pub co-owner Ken Scibetta said he received a second — and third — six-month approval to keep the structure, built on village property, standing. What he hasn't received permission for is to leave it up this winter, something he said was an oversight.

"It was our mistake," Scibetta said. "We just got behind on everything we were doing and completely forgot to reapply in December."

The structure, Scibetta said, is easy to remove. He said it would take him 15 to 20 minutes to have it disassembled. Therefore, the structure qualifies as a temporary structure, refuting Jesella's claim of permanence.

But he doesn't want to do it because of its effectiveness in handling the crowd his bar pulls in weekly. He said there's fewer problems outside the bar's doors and keeps people from wandering outside with drink in hand.

And village snow cleanup is not affected by its presence, he said. Department of Public Works Superintendent Bryan Meigs said a snow blower gets through without issue. 

Scibetta also questioned Jesella's knowledge of the agreement initially granting the patio. He wondered why approval for the patio required the restaurant to spend its own money to widen the village sidewalk in front if only for a patio to exist for one six-month period.

"We used to put tables and chairs out there like everyone else," he said. "But one day, somebody complained and we were told by the state liquor authority the area had to be enclosed. So we got approval for the patio and spent $5,000 to $6,000 to make the front bigger. We wanted to have something permanent, but it's village property and we can't do that."

Jesella said he is unaware of any additional six month permits issued to the restaurant and said the patio should be taken down.

"No one's trying to shut you down," the attorney told Scibetta. "I'd love to be able to say you can do whatever you want. You just can't do what you want to do, though. You can't."

Members of the Village Board were less fired up about the situation during Tuesday's monthly meeting, expressing a willingness to wait for the restaurant's lawyer to contact Jesella about the patio. Scibetta said contact was supposed to happen Tuesday, but his lawyer got held up in court and couldn't attend the meeting.