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ZBA: Ackermann agricultural barn is not a permitted use

05/04/2017 12:10 PM |

The Southold Town Zoning Board of Appeals ruled Thursday that a controversial plan to build a storage barn on a property in Cutchogue where the development rights have been sold would not be an allowable use. 

The applicant, North Fork Viticultural Services, was proposing to build the 8,162 square-foot storage barn at a property on Alvah’s Lane. The equipment stored there would also be used to maintain more than 20 agricultural properties elsewhere, the applicant has said.

The ZBA ultimately ruled that building the barn to store equipment for use on other properties is not permissible.

“The use as proposed by NVFS to erect a barn for storage of equipment used in a business wherein NFVS manages vineyards unrelated to the agricultural operation on the subject property is not an allowed use or accessory use,” ZBA chair Leslie Kanes Weisman said in reading the decision Thursday morning.

The Planning Board had requested the ZBA interpret whether agricultural equipment storage for a vineyard management operation is a permitted agricultural storage use on land for which the town owns development rights.

The proposed NFVS project calls for an 8,162 square-foot storage barn, which includes an attic space on the 22-acre property, which includes eight acres of grapevines and three fields under development as cattle pasture, according to the applicant.

The ZBA found the “limited” issue at hand was whether the proposed barn is a commercial use or contractor’s yard as opposed to an agricultural use on land in the A-C zoning district. The board found it had jurisdiction only under the town’s zoning code to make the determination and noted development rights are not within that authority.


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Much of the testimony from the public related to the development rights, as well as the impact the barn could have on the property and the surrounding area, which according to the ZBA, is not relevant based on its jurisdiction.

Neighbors during a November Planning Board public hearing opposed the proposed barn, concerned about “industrial” looks that could change the character of the area. They argued the barn does not fit the agricultural uses allowed on protected farmland.

“If Mr. Ackermann was seeking a variance or a special exception permit before this board or site plan approval before the Planning Board, these issues would be relevant and important considerations, however, they are simply not relevant to the limited issue currently before the board of appeals,” Ms. Kanes Weisman said.

Following the decision, Gwendolen Groocock, who has appeared at hearings on behalf of NFVS owner Bill Ackermann, said the board did not answer the question of what the business is allowed to build on its property.

“We own a farm, we lease farmland and produce grapes,” she said. “We need a barn. What are we allowed to do? That’s not the answer.”

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