A Southold couple’s dream to build a winery and continue operating a tasting room at their Old North Road residence seems all but lost after a recent ruling of the Southold Town Zoning Board of Appeals. The Town Zoning Board denied their requests for variances that would allow the winery and tasting room to operate on the same parcel they call their home. The Board also denied the couple’s request for an area variance that would allow the winery to be constructed 60 feet from the front yard lot line, where a 100-foot setback is required.
Regan and Carey Meador purchased the 23.5-acre parcel in 2012 with the intention of raising their young family there and also operating a family-run winery. However, because the development rights for all but one acre of the lot had been transferred to the Town of Southold through its Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program, the remaining one acre, on which a single-family residence is situated, is too small for both uses, according to the Southold Town Zoning Code. Unlike Suffolk County’s Farmland Program, Southold Town prohibits agricultural processing facilities, like wineries, to be located on preserved farmland.
As per the Code, the Meadors’ proposal runs afoul of the “bulk schedule”, which requires a minimum of two acres of developable land per use. Because 22.5 acres of the property is preserved farmland upon which they operate their vineyard, the remaining one-acre lot is substantially undersized for both their residence and the proposed winery, according to the Zoning Board. The Meadors argued that the entire 23.5 acres should be considered as part of the family’s farm operation, thus eliminating the need for variances from the “bulk schedule”. The Zoning Board, however, did not find that argument persuasive and unanimously denied the couple’s application. It remains to be seen whether an appeal of the Zoning Board’s decision will be taken.
Adding to the Meadors’ problems, the New York State Liquor Authority has scheduled a hearing to determine if the winery’s liquor license should be revoked, since it has been operating without the proper local permits in place.