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Parking an Obstacle for Westchester Burger's Bid to Restore Outdoor Seats

Mt. Kisco planners tell Westchester Burger Company its success means it must find space to accommodate the additional cars it attracts.

Two weeks by the Mount Kisco Planning Board, owner Vincent Corso apologized Tuesday for not promptly correcting a handful of site violations.

But Corso did not apologize for choosing his son’s little league game over the June 26 meeting. Nor, after almost 40 minutes of exchanges, did he leave with the board’s blessing for some sought-after outdoor dining.

The board, openly exasperated at the June meeting over what it deemed a lack of compliance with its demands, had ordered the restaurant’s limited outdoor seating, previously approved on a temporary basis, removed immediately.  

Any future al fresco seating, board Chairman Joseph Cosentino made clear Tuesday, would require adding parking spaces at the Westchester Burger site, 353 N. Bedford Rd., and it could come at the cost of some indoor dining capacity.

Corso and his property general manager, Michelle Bernal, stood a table’s width away from the board throughout the discussion, which also covered such site-compliance issues as repairs to guard-rail fencing, lighting and a side exit as well as a landscaping plan. Corso said the repairs had been addressed and landscaping—or its lack—sparked a brief discussion that was tabled pending a site visit.

Parking, however, remained the most intractable problem. Under state and village building codes, a restaurant’s seating is pegged to its square footage and parking capacity. Corso, quoting an unidentified fire department official, initially said Westchester Burger qualified as a 192-seat restaurant. Cosentino, however, put the total at 129, insisting, “That’s what the site plan says, 1-2-9.” 

The 129 figure was based on the restaurant’s current parking capacity, which Building Inspector Austin Cassidy puts at 48.

Cosentino noted that the restaurant’s popularity has created the parking issue.

“You run a good business there,” he told Corso. “You’re very successful with what you’re doing. We’re proud of you for doing that. The problem is parking.” He said that since the site’s previous dining spots, John's Best and , had not attracted as many customers, they did not need more than the lot’s four-dozen parking spaces.

“When 60, 70 cars come here, what do you do?” Cosentino asked. “The 24 cars that don’t fit in your lot, where do they go?”

Corso said he had started discussions to tap into the only other practical parking—25 spaces next door at the mattress outlet—but acknowledged that he had not yet acquired a written agreement.

The Sleepy’s website lists its closing time as 9 p.m. every night except Sunday, when doors close at 7p.m. But for Westchester Burger, Corso told the board, “The majority of our business starts at 5 and ends at 8:30.”

Some board members, especially Douglas Hertz and Vice-chairman Anthony Sturniolo, were critical of the restaurant’s lack of landscaping.

“Right now, it looks like Little House on the Prairie,” Sturniolo said.

Hertz agreed, saying, “What we see on the front of your building is a huge expanse of brick.”

Planning consultant Nanette Bourne suggested that the board visit the site  before taking up the matter again, which would be on Aug. 28.

Daniel S July 11, 2012 at 06:14 PM
And then the towns wonder WHY BUSINESSES LEAVE!!!!!
Craig July 11, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Who cares about the landscaping. People go for the burgers not for a garden party at Buckingham Palace.
oliverdog July 12, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Doesn't the board have more important things to worry about? I wonder if Cosentino is going to limit the outdoor seating at the Sunday Social the village is having this week. Come on lighten up we need new businesses in this town.
Henry Kazer July 12, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I agree - Mt. Kisco should have learned by now to be much more hospitable to businesses. It is common knowledge that some of the business vacancies in town are due to inflexible & impractical regulations.
John C. July 12, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Mount Kisco's Planning Board has always had and continues its adversarial posture towards business. When is the Village Board going to wake-up and lay down the law with regard to the PB's usurping of power and over-reaching their charge of responsibility ? Look around the Village - see the empty storefronts, wait till the Village feels it in their tax and parking revenues. One has only to read PB minutes to see that they have a negative egotistical view of all who attempt to do business here. It is well known that Realtors avoid Mount Kisco due to the Planning Board. The Village Board should cut back on its Planning Consultant's fees which are also astronomical, and instead promote and encourage friendly business development . Shopper feedback also reflects that Mount Kisco is not Shopper friendly as well - Parking Tickets are given without regard to any circumstance - especially of concern to downtown merchants is the ill-conceived system in the Shopper's Park lot. Consumers do not have to shop in Mount Kisco - there are other choices where parking is free and business is welcome.

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