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Greenport Harbor Brewing’s dog dock dive special event appeal granted after ZBA denial

The Southold Town Board on Tuesday granted Greenport Harbor Brewing Co.’s appeal for a permit to host its second dog dock diving competition, a fundraiser for the Guide Dog Foundation, which the Zoning Board of Appeals had denied. 

The two-day event, which is set for Saturday and Sunday, June 2-3, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is co-hosted by Harbor Pet at the brewing company’s location on Main Road in Peconic. People register their dogs for a competition to see who is the best at dock diving. 

Brewing company co-founder Rich Vandenburgh said the first-ever dock diving event last year was a success and offered a learning experience on how to organize parking for the well-attended event. 

There were issues last year with attendees parking on town property or along Main Road, which brought on safety concerns. 

This year, free shuttle service will be provided from three offsite parking locations, Mr. Vandenburgh said. Security staff and parking attendants have been advised not to allow parking on town property along Peconic Lane or on either side of Main Road, he added. Greenport Harbor will use email blasts and social media to make patrons aware of the parking sites, he said. 

The offsite parking will supplement 110 parking spots at the brewery itself, and additional spots in the back and across Peconic Lane at the former site of First Class Auto Body, which the company recently purchased. 

Councilman Jim Dinizio said the question of utmost importance to him is how to be sure parking is controlled. People have to follow the plan with parking provided by the business, he said. He also raised a concern that the parking for the event exceeds the 110 spaces that were approved on the facility’s site plan nine years ago. 

At the start of the public hearing, Mr. Vandenburgh outlined Greenport Harbor’s history and its involvement in numerous fundraisers and community-centric events. Special events are judged on impact, not on merit, Supervisor Scott Russell said. Site plans have a purpose, he said. 

“There’s only so much you can handle at the site,” he said. 

Councilwoman Jill Doherty suggested that those who take the shuttle get a bracelet so it’s known that they didn’t park somewhere else. Mr. Vandenburgh said that the plan for next year is to make the dog dock dive a ticketed event. 

Councilman Bill Ruland said he doesn’t want to give the police department extra stress should someone have to be ticketed or towed for parking somewhere they shouldn’t have.

“I don’t want it to get to that point,” he said, later adding: “We’re trusting that your event is telling the people they can’t park there.”

Mr. Vandenburgh said he was not given an opportunity to address the ZBA’s questions or concerns.

Mr. Russell said the town did not have ample time to review the permit application, which was submitted April 30. The brewery was notified of the ZBA’s denial May 15, he said. The best thing to do, he added, is to comply with the town’s special events law, which requires that applications be submitted 60 or more business days before an event; otherwise, fees apply.

Councilman Bob Ghosio read comments from Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley, who, after speaking with Mr. Vandenburgh about offsite parking, said he would be in favor of the appeal if that plan is upheld. The chief also recommended that parking at the town recreation and community centers on Peconic Lane be barricaded. 

Planning director Heather Lanza has suggested the brewery perhaps hand out maps indicating acceptable parking locations, Mr. Ghosio also added for the record. 

Before voting “yes” in a roll call vote, Mr. Dinizio said he was doing so because it’s a short time until the event. He said he didn’t feel he’d heard a solution that would make the situation different from last year and noted that it’s “evident that both sides need to do more work on special exceptions.”

Councilwoman Doherty abstained. Fishers Island Justice and board member Louisa Evans was absent.

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