The owners of Southold Farm + Cellar are still waiting for a decision from the Southold Town Zoning Board of Appeals on whether their business can reopen. Now, however, they have another battle on their hands.
Last week, the New York State Liquor Authority sent the Southold wine producer’s owners, Carey and Regan Meador, a notice about an upcoming hearing to potentially revoke or cancel their existing liquor license. The hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 9, in Manhattan, and the notice states the Meadors can file a plea by mail.
According to the SLA, a revocation terminates the license and bans the licensee from holding any liquor license for two years. A cancelation terminates the license but does not ban the licensee from reapplying within two years.
The Meadors, whose home is located on the 23-acre property where they hope to run their business, could also face a suspension of their liquor license.
When reached for comment, Mr. Meador declined an interview and issued the following statement: “We were truly shocked and dismayed to hear this news, but look forward to clearing up any errors on our part or misinformation from outside sources regarding our farm operation.”
The so-called notice of pleading sent to Southold Farm + Cellars accuses the owners of making false statements or submitting “suppressed” information to the State Liquor Authority in their liquor license application.
The Meadors reportedly claimed in their application to have a permit for a tasting room and site plan approval for a winery building. The notice also said the business was not in compliance with state building code, since it lacked a site plan approval for the wine building, and that it lacked a certificate of occupancy for a tasting room.
All of those charges could result in revocation, cancelation or suspension of their liquor license, according to the SLA. Southold Farm + Cellar’s active liquor license currently runs through Jan. 31, 2017.
Last year, the Meadors sought a building permit from Southold Town to convert an existing 400-square-foot building on their property into a tasting room and to also construct a new winery building.
Those permits were rejected by the building department, which said the property has a certificate of occupancy for a single-family residence.
That resulted in the Meadors going before the town ZBA and seeking a variance to allow the winery building to be set back 60 feet from the road, instead of the code-required 100 feet. They’re also seeking a variance to allow their home and the winery to be located on the same parcel.
The Meadors voluntarily closed their tasting room last summer at the town’s request and then reopened in the fall on weekends.
At several public hearings before the ZBA, most speakers have supported the proposal. At the most recent hearing Dec. 3, Mr. Meador told town officials he would accept certain restrictions on the winery as part of any approval given by the ZBA to reopen. The board was to render a decision within 62 days; at presstime, it hadn’t.
In December, Mr. Meador told the ZBA he would agree to conditions barring buses or limousines on the property, prohibiting special events like weddings, and limiting the number of occupants based on the amount of available parking spaces.
Credit: Southold Farm + Cellar, a family farm, vineyard and winery in Southold, opened a tasting room in June 2014 after launching a successful Kickstarter campaign. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)