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Southold Town says Croteaux Vineyards cannot open

Croteaux Vineyards’ tasting room will not be permitted to open for the season.

At a Southold Town Board meeting Tuesday night, neighbor Matilde Busana said she wondered “what the situation is with Croteaux” ahead of this summer and in light of last July’s ZBA decision, which denied a variance for the business’s tasting room. She said she wanted to know if neighbors who live near the vineyard should “brace ourselves” for the traffic she said tasting room visitors bring.

“The decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals is the law of the land, which didn’t permit it,” Supervisor Scott Russell said, noting that he was limited in his answer because litigation is pending.

The tasting room is not on a parcel where “at least 10 acres are devoted to a vineyard or other agricultural purposes,” the ZBA ruled last year. The tasting room sits on a 4.65-acre parcel on South Harbor Road in Southold. Across the road are another 9.37 acres of vines.

Croteaux Vineyards co-owner Michael Croteau moved to challenge the ZBA’s decision in court. That case hasn’t gone before a judge yet, the supervisor said.

“What we have for the time being is a ZBA decision saying you can’t open,” Mr. Russell said before, deferring to town attorney Bill Duffy.

Ms. Busana claimed vineyard neighbors were told by the business that if they don’t complain, it can open this season.

Mr. Croteau said he is not aware that any such comment had been made to neighbors and indicated that Ms. Busana was mistaken. To his knowledge, he said, the status of the tasting room hasn’t changed since the ZBA decision and litigation is pending.

Mr. Duffy said Mr. Croteau’s attorney has made attempts to get permission from the town to open, but those have been rejected by the town.

Earlier on Tuesday, Croteaux Vineyards put a post on its Facebook page telling customers to stay tuned for an official opening date.

Mr. Duffy said that when the town heard Croteaux had plans to open, he contacted Mr. Croteau’s attorney and said if they opened without proper approvals, the town “would act swiftly on it.”

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