Sherwood House presents new plan for tasting room

SAMANTHA BRIX FILE PHOTO | Sherwood House Vineyards have submitted plans to move their tasting room.

The owners of Sherwood House Vineyards, who are still in court with the town over locating a wine-tasting shed on preserved land, have filed plans to move the shed to another part of the property.

Last spring Sherwood House owners Charles and Barbara Smithen asked the Planning Board for two outdoor brick patios, one 160 square feet and the other 314 square feet, on land within the town’s farm preservation program. Their site plan was denied in September. In the new design the vineyard would add a patio of 706 square feet bordered by trellis screens.

On Monday afternoon, Planning Board members reviewed recommendations from town planner Brian Cummings that included setting a maximum occupancy for the site, prohibiting on-street parking and prohibiting limousines and buses from parking on-site.

Mr. Cummings suggested the board also consider requiring on-site restrooms, though the applicants are planning to add port-a-potties. He also suggested the town limit the amount of time a tent can be used outside of the patio area without Planning Board review and prohibit parking on the street outside the vineyard.

Board members were stumped by some of Mr. Cummings’ suggestions, including the restrooms and the maximum occupancy, since this is the first time they’ve been asked to provide either for an outdoor facility.

Planning Board member Don Wilcenski described the project as a “guinea pig” when it comes to the town setting limits on outdoor space.

“We’re in uncharted territory now,” he said. “This is the first time anything like this has gone through the Planning Board process.”

Patricia Moore, the Smithens’ attorney, said she believes state Agriculture and Markets law specifically allows for overflow parking on the road. She added that she doubts any agency would require bathrooms on the site.

She likened the area to a farm stand, which is not required to have a bathroom.

“We thought we were all going to work cooperatively but you’re creating obstacles that are inappropriate,” Ms. Moore said, adding that if the town continues to pursue requiring bathrooms “we’ll be right back in court.”

The town and the Smithens are involved in several court cases right now. The town won an injunction in November against the use of the tasting shed on preserved land, while the Smithens sued the Planning Board for not fully reviewing their original site plan.

Several outstanding citations against the Smithens concerning the tasting shed are also being heard in Southold Justice Court.

Assistant town attorney Jennifer Andaloro, who advises the Planning Board, would say only that the litigation was adjourned until the end of January.

“I still think we need health department approval. In the future we’re going to have more of these,” said Planning Board member Bill Cremers. “All we’re going to have all over town is port-a-potties … I think it’s prudent to ask the health department if they’re going to claim jurisdiction.”

Mr. Cummings’ report, however, said it’s unclear whether there is even an agency that would require restrooms at the facility.

Ms. Moore also said limousines and buses that bring people to vineyards usually drop them off and wait elsewhere and will likely not even enter the site.

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