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Long IslandSuffolk

Huntington planning board OKs Northport vineyard

On Nov. 2, 2016, the Huntington Town Planning Board approved a proposal for a Northport vineyard and tasting room that had faced opposition from Supervisor Frank Petrone and the local school district due to its proximity to an elementary school. Newsday tours the grounds of the vineyard after the decision was made. Credit: Newsday / Valerie Bauman

The Huntington Town Planning Board approved a proposal for a Northport vineyard and tasting room that had faced opposition due to the project’s proximity to an elementary school.

The board granted conditional approval Wednesday night for Del Vino Vineyards after owner Frederick Giachetti agreed to 25 concessions, including: a ban on bus parking; advance notification of pesticide spraying; and limiting the number of special events the venue can hold each year, and restricting those events to hours when Norwood Avenue Elementary School — about 350 feet away — is not in session.

Giachetti said he was “elated” with the decision to permit the vineyard on Norwood Road.

“Wine for our family is a passion,” the Northport resident said Thursday. “What we’re trying to do here is share this passion that we have for winemaking, and having this beautiful vineyard to be shared with our family, friends and neighbors.”

Del Vino still must submit a revised stormwater pollution prevention plan for approval by the town’s Department of Engineering Services and the town attorney — a largely procedural step, said Anthony Guardino, a Hauppauge attorney for Del Vino.

The vineyard now will apply for a building permit to do repairs on an existing farmhouse that will be used as the tasting room and the addition of an attached winery — a process Guardino said he expects will take up to two months.

Giachetti has faced a battle over the 10-acre facility since December, when the Northport-East Northport school district and some neighbors voiced opposition at a public hearing.

That same month, Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone called for the Suffolk County Legislature to repeal Del Vino’s agricultural status, saying lawmakers had “usurped” the town’s authority over the project by granting it that status.

Giachetti appealed to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets in February, saying town officials were stonewalling the project. Three months later, the state agency said the town’s requirements were “unreasonably restrictive” and imposed “significant additional costs.”

Giachetti said the state’s decision was instrumental in reaching a resolution.

“We have made significant progress,” Petrone said in a statement, referring to the conditions to which Del Vino agreed. “But I still believe the county should have withdrawn the agricultural designation . . . That’s their call. What we have done now is what we can do given that hurdle that was put in front of us.”

Kristi DiPaolo, a Hauppauge attorney representing the school district, spoke before the planning board Wednesday, reiterating the district’s concerns, including Del Vino’s potential traffic implications. A traffic study found the winery would have no effect along Norwood Road.

Despite the school district’s resistance, planning board president Paul Mandelik praised Norwood Elementary Principal Michael Genovese for his efforts in researching the project, including reviewing a pesticide application at Del Vino.

“I truly believe that the uneasiness some of us experienced is the result of a new relationship, one in which we will adjust to in time, just as many other districts with similar neighbors have done for decades,” Genovese said in a document Mandelik read at the meeting.

Giachetti hopes to open the winery and tasting room next summer.

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