Plans move forward for New Paltz piano bar

The new owners of the former Murphy’s Pub have plans to spruce the whole place up as they gear up to offering a place where diners can enjoy acoustic sets along the lines of Elton John and show tunes. Ed Carroll met with New Paltz Village Planning Board members on April 6, and explained how the new deck for which approval is being sought will fit into the feel of the place.

As per the usual process, Carroll explained the vision to one of the village’s building inspectors — Cory Wirthmann — who in turn determined how that vision is described in the code. Being a bar was a preexisting, nonconforming use that cannot be expanded. Wirthmann has determined that the deck would be an expansion, which means that the use has to comply with the current rules if the deck is to be added. It’s a bar with a restaurant accessory use according to the building inspector, meaning that it’s primarily a bar.

Attorney Rick Golden explained to board members that because it’s a bar, there is quite a bit about this project which is wrapped up in other sets of rules. Some of that’s in state liquor laws and can’t be controlled at the local level at all. For example, closing at 4 a.m. is in the state law. It can’t be restricted further in the special use permit. Golden said that restrictions have to be relevant to aspects of the site plan, such as environmental impacts.

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The first environmental impact which may to come to mind is noise, but since there’s a noise ordinance in the village, board members can’t tamp down on that more either, according to the attorney. Carroll painted a picture of an “acoustic concept” with offerings from “popular show tunes” and “the great American songbook,” but Golden said that this is irrelevant to the approval, because conditions can’t be based on particular styles of music.

“I don’t see a particular hook by which you’d be able to limit operational hours,” Golden said.

Board members readily turned to questions over which they do have control, such as confirming the building has all the exits needed and that the design complies with setback rules.

One of the areas where board members still have pull is with the signage and another is parking. Some tweaks were requested for the plan to clarify issues such as deck and fence height and architect Allen Ross confirmed that the propane tanks will be buried, if Wirthmann agrees.

Parking is supposed to be mostly absorbed into the greater sea of parked vehicles in the village core, with patrons finding a metered spot either on a nearby street or in the village lot off Plattekill Avenue. Three spots that are required for tenants of the upstairs apartments will remain.

The public hearing about this application will be opened at the May 18 meeting.

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