New bathroom in the works at Harbes Family Farm

01/14/2014 11:00 AM |
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | A line of people at Harbes Family Farm during pumpkin picking season last fall.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | A line of people at Harbes Family Farm during pumpkin picking season last fall.

As Harbes Family Farm works to add new facilities on site while attempting to quell Route 48 traffic concerns simultaneously, the farm was given an OK by the Southold Town Planning Board on Monday to add eight bathrooms. However, expansion of an existing refrigeration facility will have to be put on hold.

At its work session on Tuesday, Planning Board president Donald Wilcenski told Mr. Harbes to move forward with proposals to convert a former office on the property into a restroom with four men’s stalls and four women’s stalls. The farm owners are seeking amendments to a site plan approved by the Board in February.

“The public really appreciates a good, clean bathroom, especially if the alternative is a port-a-potty,” Mr. Harbes said. “I think bathrooms are something the public always benefits from.”

In addition to adding a second restroom, Mr. Harbes said he’d like to relocate the farm’s existing bathroom, which contains two women’s stalls and one men’s stall, to the property’s “barnyard” area, a spot Mr. Harbes called more “convenient” for guests — something the Planning Board also signed off on Monday.

Mr. Harbes’ approved site plan called for increased parking spaces at his Sound Avenue property to help quell traffic concerns during the fall pumpkin picking season — fewer foot traffic will be required walking across the busy road — as well as the conversion of an existing building on the property into a wine tasting room.

Those projects have already been completed, Mr. Harbes said, but Mr. Wilcenski said Monday the farm’s wine tasting room still needs a Certificate of Occupancy — something Planning Board director Heather Lanza told Mr. Harbes he should make a “priority.”

During the meeting, Mr. Harbes said both the Certificate of Occupancy and the restroom conversion will be completed by July, when the site plan is set to expire.

When it does, Planning Board members said they’d revisit Mr. Harbes’ second proposal: to construct a 40-foot-by-50-foot refrigerated barn directly behind the property’s food stand that would allow employees to use forklifts to transfer perishable food. Currently, he said, the farm uses a walk-in cooler that requires workers to do everything by hand.

A new refrigerated unit would also help the farm better comply with new federal government food safety regulations, Mr. Harbes said.

“As of the last several years there have been more stringent regulations as to how to keep perishable fruits and vegetables so that they’ll be healthiest and safest for the public,” he said. “We take food safety seriously and we’re trying to upgrade our storage and refrigerator and freezer area.”

At the end of the meeting, the board said it would go to Harbes Family Farm this summer for a site visit and perhaps create an amended site plan for the refrigerated storage unit.

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