To the editor:
This is another case of “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.” It happens far too frequently and then we are asked to feel sorry for the violator and approve their non-conforming action.
Regan Meador is certainly entitled to his freedom-of-speech right, but that does not make his statements true.
I don’t believe the big wineries are solely reliant on heavily-trafficked tasting rooms, weddings and large events to stay afloat. From what I’ve read in The Suffolk Times, Southold Town is being more and more restrictive on granting permits for large events and weddings.
Mr. Meador also mentions prohibiting new, large operations. As soon as I hear/read the word “prohibition” of a zoning use from someone who has a similar but less intensive use, it throws up a bunch of red flags … or in this case red grapes.
The statement that a 10-acre requirement does nothing to protect neighbors is untrue. Agriculture businesses are noisy, dusty and smelly by nature. Chemicals are used, machinery is run to spray grapes, cannons blast to scare off birds, etc. Is Mr. Meador saying cannons are less intrusive than some tourism traffic, which by the way benefits many other local businesses as well? Requiring more acreage (e.g., 10-acre minimum) for larger wineries provides for more distance between a working winery and their sometimes residential neighbors.
Many farmers rent land, so it is not lived on; this practice makes farmland more useful and affordable.
As for a variance, there has to be some condition unique to his property which prevents him from complying with the zoning regulations, a condition that is not generally affecting other similar properties. Variances are not given for economic hardships.
The Zoning Board of Appeals needs only to do what it is supposed to do: enforce the regulations that are on the books.
Tom Maguire, Cutchogue