Planning board requests review of Owera Vineyards’ adherence to town zoning laws

— At the Dec. 5 meeting, Owera’s landscape architect, Joanne Gagliano, reviewed the proposed project to date and said the building has been reduced in size; specifically, the extra wing added to the building in November was removed from the plans.

Planning board members asked multiple questions seeking specific details concerning the building’s construction and how effective it is expected to be in containing sound from event music — which is the main complaint of the winery’s neighbors.

After about 45 minutes of discussion, it was stipulated by both the board and Owera’s attorney Antonio E. Caruso that Owera would agree to a specific decibel level limit at the property boundary lines, and the planning board would require tests to monitor noise levels at the boundaries. What that decibel level would be was not agreed to at the meeting.

Town Attorney John Langey announced at the meeting that he had had “extensive communications” with state Department of Agriculture and Markets attorneys asking for clarification on Owera’s status as a farm winery and whether or not the charges by its neighbors that it has been operating in violation of DAM regulations are valid or correct. Langey said the DAM did declare that Owera is a “start-up farm winery” and as such it has certain goals and achievements it must meet under DAM laws.

“The guidance says they can have events, but it doesn’t say how many,” Langey said.

He said the DAM refused to get involved in the issues and disagreements currently going on between Owera, its neighbors and the town. He said the department wants the planning board to decide the specific details of Owera’s allowed operations by the town and only if there is a “specific dispute” that is appealed to the DAM will it get involved to the point of issuing an opinion on the matter.

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