Owera neighbors continue fight against winery at planning board public hearing

— “Please act in the best interests of Cazenovia: Close the banquet facility and give us back our neighborhood,” Cowan said.

East Lake Road resident Deb Moynihan said Owera’s proposed events building had “nothing to do with operating a vineyard,” and that there is no way Owera generates more income on its wine than it does on its weddings and other events, as required by state law. She offered her own calculated figures of Owera’s wine production and sales versus the approximate cost of a typical winery wedding, and declared, “You cannot do the math and support what Ag and Markets requires.”

Berta Keeler, also an East Lake Road resident, asked the planning board members why they would even consider approving Owera’s building proposal, which is even larger than the current events tent, “with their history of non-compliance [to town zoning laws]?”

Owera was issued a town violation in September for allowing a winery event to occur past 10 p.m., which is the curfew time for Owera’s events under the planning board site plan approval for the winery.

Neighbors Bryan Wendel and Bruce Race also asked why the planning board would “reward” Owera and its owners, Peter and Nancy Muserlian, with another building permit despite their continued violations of town zoning laws.

“They ignore the rules,” Wendel said. “And now they want to double-down with a more permanent structure.”

“Are we to take the word of the owners who have repeatedly shown their insincerity?” Race asked. “Let Owera Vineyards first prove compliance and intention to comply with the laws that govern our municipality and then ask the town leaders for another permit.”

One East Lake Road neighbor, Maggie Borio, did speak in favor of Owera Vineyards and its proposed new events building. She said that as a direct neighbor she has never heard any noise coming from the winery’s production facility or from its heating and air conditioning systems, as some neighbors claimed. As for the event noise, “If the tent’s not working, wouldn’t a building be better?” she asked.

Borio said Owera is a business that supports the Cazenovia community and has brought a lot of visitors into local shops and restaurants. Owera’s position on the state beverage trail is also “a big deal,” she said.

Owera owner Peter Muserlian, who was present during the public hearing, did not respond to his neighbors’ comments or speak at all during the public comment period. He offered “no comment” when asked by the Cazenovia Republican for a statement.

Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at editor@cazenoviarepublican.com.

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