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The audacity of Owera

EDITORIAL

There are many items of interest we could opine on this week: the impressive athleticism of our high school athletes, the results of the recent election, the inspiring actions of two of our Cazenovia police officers — but we feel compelled to comment once more on the situation with Owera Vineyards and its appearance before the town planning board last week.

To think that Owera owners Peter and Nancy Muserlian — after six months of ignoring neighbors’ pleas, requests and complaints for the winery to lower the lights and limit the loud music for simple neighborhood peace; after ignoring town zoning laws; after being issued a zoning violation by the town for ignoring those town laws; after repeatedly telling untruths to various people, including lying straight out to the town board, as we have documented in this newspaper; after having their attorney explicitly state that town laws do not apply to Owera; after the way they have continuously treated their neighbors, municipal officials and the entire town with contempt and disrespect — would have the audacity to appear before the planning board and request an event building bigger than the current event tent, that will hold more people, more events and operate year-round rather than only seasonally as it currently does, would be ridiculous if it was not so appalling and offensive.

How can the Muserlians even conceive of a situation in which the planning board would reward them with more freedom after repeatedly ignoring local laws and regulations?

We applaud the entire planning board, and Chair Michael Palmer in particular, for finally being the local officials to stand up and say no: No more carte blanche for Owera unless and until they prove their actions are truly within state Department of Agriculture and Markets law. It’s about time someone in the town government did. During the meeting, Peter Muserlian sat there looking angry about the planning board’s questions and ultimate decision and the neighbors’ comments. Perhaps instead of being angry over a situation that he created, he should look inward to consider how his decisions have affected other people and why the planning board questions his motives and seeks to limit his previously unlimited plans.

It is our opinion that Owera has adamantly avoided asking the Department of Agriculture and Markets for a ruling on the legality of their massive banquet operation because they know the state will rule against them and they will have to operate simply as a winery, which, apparently, they prefer not to do. Now the planning board has drawn a line in the sand. We applaud them, and urge them to stay the course.

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