Huntington Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone has called on the Suffolk County Legislature to repeal the agricultural status it awarded a local attorney who wants to build a 10-acre vineyard and tasting room next to an elementary school in the Northport-East Northport district.
In a letter dated Dec. 16, Petrone said the legislature “usurped” authority the town would otherwise have over development of Del Vino Vineyards.
Citing legislators’ comments and questions during a July 20 hearing of the legislature’s Environment, Planning and Agriculture Committee, Petrone said lawmakers did not realize that adding the property at 29 Norwood Rd. to a county agricultural district would remove much of the town’s power to regulate activities on the land.
“The County of Suffolk should immediately vote to correct what the town would assert is a vote taken in error, and rescind the inclusion of the parcel ... ,” Petrone wrote.
Petrone said such an action would allow the town authority to call for further analysis of the proposed vineyard — particularly given it is about 350 feet from Norwood Avenue Elementary School.
Town Planning Director Anthony Aloisio said the Suffolk Legislature’s actions have taken power from the town to decide whether or not the property may have a vineyard that serves wine. The town’s planning board still has the ability to weigh in on such things as the size of the wine-tasting room and how much parking would be required.
Petrone said various comments misled county lawmakers who later approved including the property in an agricultural district. Neither Sarah Lansdale, Director of the County Planning Department, who Patrone quotes in his letter, nor Lansdale’s department immediately responded to requests for comment.
Anthony Guardino, a Hauppauge-based attorney with Farrell Fritz, represents landowner Fred Giachetti, who envisions a small-batch vineyard with about 60 parking spaces. He wants to convert the 90-year-old farmhouse on the land into a tasting room for customers.
Guardino said in an email Monday that he plans to write to the legislature to say Petrone’s letter was “Nothing more than a veiled attempt by the Town of Huntington to deny Del Vino Vineyards its right to use its property for a lawful agricultural purpose and the protections that it enjoys under the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law.”
Guardino said the legislative committee Petrone references in his letter “clearly understood the ramifications of the agricultural process” when it unanimously voted to grant Del Vino agricultural status.
Huntington’s Planning Board approved Del Vino’s initial site plan for a vineyard that grow grapes. Aloisio said the board has asked Giachetti to submit a separate application for using the property as a winery, producing wine on-site and offering a wine-tasting room.
Aloisio said the planning board will consider various issues as it exercises its authority over the proposed vineyard, including evaluating environmental effects, traffic, noise, pollution and visual impacts.