Judge tosses out attempt to put brakes on Vineyard 48

A recent attempt by the New York State Liquor Authority to lift the stay that allows Vineyard 48 to continue operating pending the winery’s appeal of its license revocation has been tossed out by a State Supreme Court judge.

Judge Doris Ling-Cohan ruled May 15 that the SLA did not submit proof that Vineyard 48 was operating in violation of the terms of the court’s conditional stay, issued Dec. 30, of the winery’s liquor license.

The SLA had asked for a motion to show cause, and included an “affirmation” by neighbor William Shipman, who has spoken out in recent months against tents and music at the winery that he alleges are in violation of the planning board’s conditions.

“[T]he ‘affirmation’ in support by William Shipman is plainly insufficient to warrant the requested relief,” Ling-Cohan wrote. Shipman’s “affirmation” was not a sworn affidavit as required by state law, she said. Also it did not contain an assertion that Vineyard 48 had done anything that violated the stay, the order said.

Peter Sullivan, of the Manhattan-based law firm Sullivan Gardner PC, said today recent allegations made by Shipman against the winery regarding tents and music are completely unfounded.

“First, we believe it’s only one or two residents,” Sullivan said in a phone interview. “We believe the rest of the community has recognized that we’ve been a good neighbor, and the things reported about us being in violation of a court order aren’t true.”

At a town board meeting on May 20, Shipman, a winery neighbor who has complained to the town about loud music and other issues over the past two years, told the town board that, despite the fact that he believes the tents are in violation of the business’s site plan, they have remained in place for the past three weeks; he was also concerned about music at the winery.

While the tents may not be allowed under the winery’s site plan approval, they do not violate the terms of the conditional stay, Ling-Cohan ruled.

“The parameters of the stay issued by Justice Shulman were very specific and and the conduct alleged by Mr. Shipman in his ‘affirmation’, even if true, does not violate the terms of Justice Shulman’s stay,” Ling-Cohan wrote.

The stay allows Vineyard 48 to engage in business such as grape pruning, wine bottling, manufacturing, retail sales and wine tastings.

Conditions set forth by the Southold Town planning board, which rendered amended site plan approval with conditions in December, 2013, state that no tents are allowed except with a special event permit at Vineyard 48 — and “all amplified music and other amplified sounds shall be contained entirely indoors in the wine-tasting building, with all doors and windows closed.”

Sullivan said his client has strived to be a good neighbor. “We’re trying so hard, given that we are always in the spotlight, and have had to be far more law-abiding than everyone else. We wish people would give us some recognition about how hard we’re working,” he said.

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