Next Tuesday is the best chance for Southolders to air their concerns about the new special events permit law, and speak on a new land acquisition in the Pipes Cove, Greenport, greenbelt.
Hearings begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Southold Town Hall meeting room.
The special events law was first proposed more than a year ago in response to concerns about a growing number of events — from rock concerts to large weddings and fundraisers — at wineries and large agricultural properties.
The town’s current code requires $50 permits for events on public property with more than 50 attendees and for-profit events that exceed a winery building’s capacity.
If the new law is adopted, permit fees will vary on a sliding scale based on the number of anticipated attendees and will encompass a broader range of events on any private property, not just wineries, including events with amplified music and portable toilets.
At the low end, permits for events with up to 250 people would cost $250. Permits for events expecting 1,000 or more people would cost $650. The town’s Zoning Board of Appeals would administer the permits, as it does now. Events taking place on town property or involving more than 1,000 attendees would also need approval from the Town Board.
The town is currently embroiled in a dispute with the operators of Vineyard 48, which was denied permits for weekly gatherings that were previously called dance parties but are now being billed as wine tastings with DJ music. The winery was recently ticketed for operating without a special events permit and for violating the town’s noise ordinance.
The town has been working with business owners, vineyards and the farming community to draft a law that attempts to address concerns on both sides.
“Quite honestly, the wine guys are a little nervous about it,” said Long Island Farm Bureau executive director Joe Gergela this week.
“It’s gotta start somewhere. The town is within its rights to have a zoning code,” he added. “I think that this is balanced. If it needs tweaking, we’ll work with the Wine Council to make sure it’s not interfering with the wine industry. The town has been very good. They don’t want to hurt the industry.”
Long Island Wine Council president Ron Goerler was slightly more skeptical.
“We just don’t want things to be overly restrictive. I have to look at the next generation. My children to be able to do things,” he said. “You’re talking about targeting farm stands and everyone that wants to do something in this community, not just with wine. I don’t think people realize that. Permits are good for making sure there’s structure and order, but they shouldn’t limit a business’ ability to be profitable. If businesses are not profitable in the Town of Southold, how does it function?”
If the law is approved, event organizers who don’t get permits face fines ranging from $500 to $1,000.
PIPES COVE ACQUISITION
The Town Board will hold a second public hearing Tuesday on the purchase of a 10.38-acre property on Pipes Neck Road in Greenport with $550,000 from the Community Preservation Fund. The property will likely be used for a nature preserve and walking trails.
The town and preservation groups are nearly finished buying up land around Pipes Cove for a greenbelt.
This purchase is eligible for a 50 percent grant from New York State, through which the town could get back $250,000 of the purchase price.