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Planning Board discusses reconfigured parking plan at Croteaux Vineyards

The new owners of Croteaux Vineyards may reconfigure their parking plan in response to concerns from neighbors and members of the Southold Town Planning Board.

The winery, which reopened under new ownership in August, must obtain site plan approval as part of a stipulation of settlement reached with the town following a lengthy Zoning Board of Appeals lawsuit.

The site plan proposes 75 parking stalls on the property, distributed to the north and south of the winery. However, during a public hearing in December, neighbors who live along the property’s northern edge pushed back against their parking plan, which currently proposes that cars park along that buffer.

Reconfiguring that parking plan was the subject of a discussion during a Planning Board work session Monday.

“If there’s a creative way to beef up that particular area [for the] quality of life for that resident, that’s what I’m bringing to your attention,” Planning Board member Mary Eisenstein said.

The plans could be reconfigured to move some of those spots to the southern side of the property and signs could direct patrons to use that area as a secondary, overflow parking area, according to Dan Pennessi, who is representing the owners and the applicant.

He also said additional plantings could be placed along the buffer to help mitigate impacts.

“If more parking can be added, it should be added to the [south],” Planning Board Chair Don Wilcenski said.

The Planning Board may also ask for a revised site plan to show where live music or a food truck would be staged if a special event was being held at the property, located on South Harbor Road.

According to the stipulation of settlement with the town, no buses or limousines are permitted on the property, which is limited to hosting 150 guests in the tasting room at a time. They are permitted to host special events for no more than 75 people. Though food trucks are currently not allowed under town code, they could be allowed under a special event permit issued by the Town Board.

Town planners Heather Lanza and Mark Terry urged the board to consider those impacts on neighboring property owners.

“You could have a wedding every weekend for a lot of the summer and the fall,” Ms. Lanza pointed out. “That’s what we’re seeing in the special event committee.”

Mr. Pennessi assured the board that becoming a wedding venue isn’t their business plan.

“We’re not interested in having big weddings or amplified music,” he said, adding that special events they’d consider hosting would be in the realm of bridal showers, for example. 

“It’s limited to 75 guests anyway,” he said. “A lot of weddings are more than that.”

Ms. Lanza then pointed out that as a condition of site plan approval, Sannino Vineyards, which recently opened a new location in Cutchogue, originally agreed not to host special events.

Since then, she said, the Planning Board has amended that decision to allow them to host up to 12 special events per year.

Mr. Terry said the issue was raised as a matter of consistency.

“We get a lot of complaints from different people who live next to these uses,” he said. “It’s a beautiful winery, you’re going to be busy, but it’s a balancing act.”

A revised site plan is expected to be reviewed at a future work session.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to clarify comments made by Ms. Lanza during a Planning Board meeting.