Oct 08, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
Faced with mounting neighborhood complaints and pending legal action for noise violations from the town, the owners of Owera Vineyards on East Lake Road last week presented a proposal to the town planning board to build a permanent events building on the winery land to replace the temporary tent structure currently in place.
“The idea of our design … would be to reduce the noise,” Joanne Gagliano, landscape architect for Owera Vineyards, told member of the town planning board at their Oct. 3 meeting.
The noise levels at Owera from its weekend events have been an issue with the neighbors since the winery opened in June and with the town since the town board addressed the neighbors’ complaints at its regular August meeting. Under the site plan for the winery approved by the town planning board, all outdoor events at Owera are required to either end or be held inside a building after 10 p.m. specifically to address the issue of noise bothering its neighbors. Owera has been allowing its weddings and special events to go until 11 p.m., and, according to neighbors, sometimes until 1 a.m., in its non-permanent events tent, which has vinyl flaps that can be rolled up and down. The winery maintains that the tent is a structure and therefore their weddings inside the tent can go as long as they want.
In mid-September, Town Codes Enforcement Officer Roger Cook issued a town zoning law violation to the winery for its excessive noise levels after 10 p.m. In the three weeks since then, the winery has continued to hold events past 10 p.m. and the town is currently preparing to issue a court summons to Muserlian for his continued violation, Cook said.
At the Sept. 8 town board meeting, Muserlian announced his plans to build a permanent event building in an effort to reduce the noise being heard beyond the winery’s grounds.
Muserlian, along with his landscape architect, architect, sound engineering expert and Owera attorney appeared before the town planning board on Oct. 3 to provide the board with project information and to receive feedback before submitting its formal application for the project in November, Gagliano said.
According to the Owera experts at the meeting, the building proposal is based off the footprint of the current tent but includes an additional wing and storage area; a seating capacity for 300 people; only two doorways (instead of the current four doorways), both with vestibules; self-closing doors; and triple-glazed windows at a smaller size than the current tent. The walls will be 2×8 construction with staggered 2×6 studs within; have 6 inches of sound insulation, wood siding on top of plywood, noise barriers on inside space with seven-eighths-inch resilient channels to insulate sound.
The noise levels heard at the closest property line to the winery is expected to be 60 decibels, said Owera’s sound engineering expert Bob Andres. “That’s pretty good. My talking right now is about 60 decibels,” Andres said.
Andres said the building will be a “multiple composite structure” of a type never before accomplished, which will not only limit general noise but will also address the bass and high-frequency noise levels.
The new building would have events year-round, versus the current six-month event season with the tent, and the current outdoor bar would be brought inside to help reduce outside noise levels, Muserlian said.
Planning Board Member Anne Ferguson said the proposed state-of-the-art building “seems like an awful lot of expense” and asked why the winery does not look at simply limiting the music played there to softer music like string quartets and classical music. Owera attorney Antonio E. Caruso said the winery plays the music its clients want to hear, and therefore this proposed building is the “proper response” to the noise issue facing Owera.
Board Member Anastasia Urtz, who works in the events business, said she was concerned with the house rules Owera imposes at every event, that the nature of events is that people try to violate rules and go louder and longer than events are initially scheduled to go.
“There must be house rules, this affects what you’re doing architecturally,” she said. “That’s where we’ve got to get some boundaries.”
Caruso said Muserlian is already working on interior house rules, but the new building will reduce noise with a “human-free” solution.
Urtz also said she was concerned about the potential uses the winery sees for the additional wing planned for the new building. Muserlian said the meeting rooms in the wing would be for trade shows, pharmaceutical dinners, corporate retreats and similar events.
Town Attorney John Langey at this point said he wanted to make clear that the planning board originally approved Owera to be a winery, not a hotel or any other sort of business.
“I’ve heard and read comments calling this an ‘event center.’ This planning board cannot approve that,” Langey said, adding that while a winery can have events, the primary purpose of the use of the Owera property is as a winery and not an event center. “I don’t want anybody misunderstanding … you don’t have the power to turn this into something other than a winery. If you did, you’re operating outside of the town zoning law,” he told the board.
Ferguson asked the Owera experts what would happen if the board approved the new building, it was constructed and it ultimately did nothing to address the noise issues and complaints. Andres said the Owera sound system can be programmed to set a profile to minimize noise or “tune out” specific problems such as bass noise or high frequency sound waves. “That’s the final solution,” he said. “There is a way.”
Planning Board Chair Michael Palmer said the board should agree on a guaranteed sound level at the winery property line and also hire its own independent acoustic engineer to review and concur with the winery’s building plans.
While the planning board handled the Owera proposal as it would any other building proposal, raising questions and concerns about the proposed building specifications and materials, the shadow of the current dispute between Muserlian, his neighbors and the town over noise issues loomed over the discussion. When Muserlian was asked at what hour his weekend events typically end, he answered 11 p.m. None of the board members responded to his answer, even though the original Owera site plan approval says events must end at 10 p.m.
After the meeting had ended, Urtz asked about that ending time, which Langey said is 10 p.m., not 11 p.m. “Eleven p.m. was never agreed to by anyone, ever,” Langey told the board.
Palmer said the board’s ultimate resolution on the proposed Owera building will reaffirm the hours of operation.
The planning board scheduled a public hearing on the Owera building proposal for its Nov. 7 meeting.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.