Planners are reconsidering Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard’s request for a new tasting room

Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard is back in front of the planning council to seek approval for a site plan rejected by that council in a 3-2 vote in October.

The vineyard, located on the north side of Sound Avenue west of Edwards Avenue, is looking to build a 6,048 square foot tasting room, a 2,500 square foot farm equipment building and convert a existing 275 square foot wine processing building. and a bathroom on its 16.8-acre site.

Since that vote, one of the three board members who voted against the plan last year has retired and a new member has been appointed to fill his seat.

Vineyard manager Sean Kelly renewed his pitch for approval to the reconstituted council when they met on Thursday afternoon.

Riverhead planner Greg Bergman reviewed the site plan application and review he received prior to the Oct. 7 vote. He said the resolution before council at the time was a resolution to approve the site plan and as it did not gain majority support the council effectively took no action on the request. .

“In effect, that means the board hasn’t made a decision on the request and it hasn’t approved it and it hasn’t denied it,” Bergman told board members Thursday.

The app has sparked controversy in the community, with nearby residents complaining about the vineyard’s current operations and representatives of area civic associations arguing that approval of the site plan, which would position the site to be used as a wedding venue, would degrade the historic Sound Avenue corridor. .

Former Planning Council Chairman Stan Carey agreed. When he voted against the resolution in October, he said he thought its approval would “set a very dangerous precedent for Sound Avenue” and “would be a first step in ruining the historic nature of Sound Avenue.” Longtime planning board members Richard O’Dea and Joseph Baier joined Carey in voting against approval.

Carey, a Calverton resident, retired on November 30 and the city council then appointed Joann Waski of Jamesport, to fill his seat and also serve as interim council chair.

When Kelly met with the board on Thursday, he told them the music on his site did not and would not affect nearby residents. All outside amplified music must use the house sound system and its staff controls the volume. Additionally, the speakers will be positioned to direct sound away from the nearest residences, he said.

Nearby residents complained to the planning council last year about loud music coming from the vineyard at weekends. On Thursday, Kelly denied their allegations. He said one of the residents who most opposed his candidacy was “never home” on weekends.

“Me and my brother have been there almost every Saturday and Sunday since that last hearing to invite him,” Kelly said. He said his brother used his phone to make a recording from the neighbor’s house. “I don’t know where he is at the weekend, but he wants to go home every time we go,” he said.

Kelly said outdoor music is kept at a level where two people can comfortably have a conversation. The tasting room would be “a stand-alone soundproof building,” so bands playing inside would not be heard offsite.

Other Sound Avenue wineries, such as Palmer and RG, have outdoor music and host weddings, Kelly said. Banning him from hosting weddings or having outdoor music would impose an unfair restriction on his business, he said.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has released guidelines that “dictate how wineries and farm breweries…can use weddings to support and market their products,” Bergman told the board. administration. He said he included these guidelines in the resolution to approve the Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyards site plan application. The vineyard would be required to provide annual accounts to establish that the main use of the property is agriculture – the cultivation of vines – and to “ensure that it is not simply a hall of restoration,” Bergman said.

“No more than 30% of our revenue can be generated from the sale of non-wine,” Kelly said.

He said his involvement in any wedding at the vineyard would be limited to providing the venue in exchange for site fees and selling wine. Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard would not provide food or contract with caterers, florists or musicians, he said.

The board may restrict hours of operation and require events at the vineyard to be completed by 10 p.m. or midnight. Bergman said he would check what restrictions were placed on other Sound Avenue wineries.

Waski said she wanted to visit the vineyard to check on its operations after it reopens in February.

Bergman said the council has already completed the required review process, including a public hearing, and can re-enter the resolution since it did not act on it last time.

The board will discuss the request in more detail at a future meeting.

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