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Ralph’s closure may be imminent

After a year of deliberations over the controversial Ralph’s Italian Ices & Ice Cream shop, the Zoning Board of Appeals may be poised to deny a special permit application, effectively shuttering the business’ doors for good and opening the village of Mamaroneck up to a potential lawsuit.

“Everybody agrees that there was a problem with Ralph’s,” said Barry Weprin, the zoning board chairman. “Everybody also agreed that the changes they were making would make things better. The disagreement is if [the changes] would be enough for Ralph’s to operate.”

Currently, Weprin said, there are three members of the five-member zoning board who are poised to deny a special permit for the business, meaning the 946 E. Boston Post Road business would lack the necessary approval to continue operations.

Such a denial would follow multiple appeals by residents of that neighborhood that eventually saw the business transition into being processed as a fast food establishment as opposed to its original classification as a retail establishment by Building Inspector Dan Gray.

In the event that a special permit application is denied, Weprin said that the business will either be closed immediately or may be given a grace period in which it can phase its operations out.

Alternatively, Weprin added that Scott Rosenberg, the owner of this particular Ralph’s franchise, could sue the village, marking the second time he has done so. A previous lawsuit  filed by Rosenberg in August 2016 looking to undo restricted hours imposed by the zoning board was thrown out by a judge shortly thereafter.

Although Rosenberg was forced to undergo a site plan review after a zoning appeal was launched in July 2016, according to Weprin, no major work has been done to rectify exacerbated traffic conditions caused by Ralph’s influx of patrons.

Under C-1 zoning district guidelines, fast food establishments are not expressly allowed, but can be approved through a special permit process.

Currently, the Dunkin’ Donuts chain—which is classified as a fast food restaurant—is operating in the same district as Ralph’s after undergoing the same process.

Residents in the vicinity of Ralph’s, namely those living on Keeler Avenue, have now long contested the introduction of the ice cream parlor, citing it as the root of onerous traffic conditions and noise in their neighborhood.

Following a successful appeal of Ralph’s last year, the storefront has also been operating under abbreviated hours which extend until 10:30 p.m. on weekdays and 11:30 p.m. on weekends.

According to Weprin, a final decision on whether Ralph’s special permit will be accepted or denied will likely take place at the zoning board’s July 7 meeting.

Rosenberg could not be reached for comment as of press time.

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