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St. James winery, Smithtown officials try to iron out differences over permit to host weddings

St. James, a hamlet in the Town of

St. James, a hamlet in the Town of Smithtown, and is home to the oldest continuously operating general store in the United States. (July 17, 2011) Credit: Erin Geismar

The attorney for a St. James winery is to meet with Smithtown Town officials Friday on the vineyard’s plan to host weddings and other outdoor events.

Town officials and attorney Vincent Trimarco said Tuesday they hope to iron out their differences over whether Whisper Vineyards must obtain a special exception permit to hold the events. Trimarco said Tuesday he believes the winery might be exempt under state agriculture law.

A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. on April 25 but might not be held if the winery is exempt from seeking town approval.

Councilman Thomas McCarthy said he was perplexed as to why the vineyard would not want to seek a permit from the town board.

“I don’t see anybody on this board who’s going to oppose the special exception, so I don’t know why they don’t just go for the special exception,” he said. “All they did was confuse the whole issue.”

Trimarco said the permit, if approved by the town board, would impose restrictions such as the number of guests who may attend events. “If we say that there’s going to be 300 people at a wedding, and we mess up and there’s 350, then we’re in violation of the special permit,” Trimarco said.

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