Sherwood House says tasting spot doesn’t need a bathroom

A representative for Sherwood House Vineyards continues to insist the vineyard does not need to provide public bathrooms at a new tasting area at its Oregon Road vineyard.

The Southold Town Planning Board discussed the issue at a work session Monday afternoon.

Sherwood House is currently involved in several legal battles with the town over its use of a small shed on preserved land as a tasting area, and the vineyard’s owners, Charles and Barbara Smithen, are looking to legalize wine tastings on the site by moving them to a new 490-square-foot cedar deck adjacent to the winery on land that is not preserved.

Attorney Patricia Moore is representing the Smithens in their application before the Planning Board, which is still awaiting word on whether the bathrooms are required by the Suffolk County Health Department.

“Even if they say we need them, we’re going to say we’re not getting them,” Ms. Moore told the board, adding that it is her clients’ position that bathrooms are not needed for the outdoor seating area. The Smithens plan to provide a Porta-Pottie for visitors.

The Planning Board is recommending that the tasting area occupancy be set at 72 people, and that any event with more people would require a special events permit, as is the case with other wineries that hold events exceeding their permitted occupancy.

Ms. Moore and the board are also debating the use of tents on the site. Planning staff originally recommended Monday that an amendment to the site plan would be necessary if the Smithens used a tent for more than 72 hours at a time or more than five times a year. Ms. Moore said she believed planners had recommended the amendment if the tent were to be outside the patio area.

She said her clients would likely use a 10 x 30 foot tent over the patio regularly to protect their guests from heat and inclement weather. The board agreed to take her comments into consideration.

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Read more from the Planning Board in Thursday’s edition of The Suffolk Times.