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Residents have their say on Surrey Lane Vineyard application

06/07/2017 5:59 AM |

Neighbors and fellow wine industry members came out Monday to support the proposed Surrey Lane Vineyard in Southold during a public hearing on the application.

Proposed by David and Liz Shanks, the roughly 3,600-square-foot building would include a 1,900-square-foot first-floor wine tasting space and farm stand, as well as nearly 1,400 square feet in the basement for wine production and storage.

Winemaker Alie Shaper of Brooklyn Oenology and As If Wines called the proposal “a fantastic opportunity to preserve open space” and agricultural tradition, as well as allow the Shanks to add value to their property, not only on a business level but for future generations.

“What I’d love to see is this project to get approved so that it sends a clear message to our local industry that the town is supportive of our industry and is interested in seeing responsible and respectable folks like the Shanks family promote good businesses providing jobs to the town,” Ms. Shaper said.

Ron Reeve of Mattituck said he’s pleased to see the direction the North Fork has taken in keeping the area in agriculture and the Shanks’ application fits in that movement. Janet Larsen of Mattituck agreed and said the traffic pattern, which she’s not sure is “ever solvable” should not hold the application back.

“I would like to see our lands preserved as vineyards instead of commercial businesses,” Ms. Larsen said. “This is exactly what we need.”

Neighbor Michael Murray, who identified himself as a tavern owner, said he’s concerned the winery would “exacerbate” traffic and attract patrons who might “drink to excess,” and questioned if the building would have enough “sanitary capability” for its customers.

“I come out in full opposition of this project as proposed,” Mr. Murray said. “I think the applicant needs to be sent back to the drawing board and to be a responsible business owner and address real concerns.”

Ms. Shaper, speaking for a second time, said the intent of wineries is not to “sling shots across the bar,” but to educate customers on the culture and art of wine.

Neighbor Carmine Antonelli, while agreeing the Shanks are good neighbors, reiterated concerns from a December hearing about the impact on the area if events such as weddings are permitted at the winery.

Michael Falcetta, general manager at Sparkling Pointe Winery, which is adjacent to the Surrey Lane property, added later that the town has a measure in place to address special events and complaints. Additionally, he said, many businesses encourage tastings for the purchase of wine to be enjoyed at home, rather than on-site consumption of alcohol.

Gail Wickham, the attorney for the applicant, agreed the object is to sell bottles of wine, not by-the-glass sales on site, to make a winery viable. Addressing traffic concerns, Ms. Wickham said one winery should not be singled out as the cause for all problems.

The Planning Board voted to close the public hearing.

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