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Zoning board moves Owera code enforcement appeal hearing to July 28

— It will be another three weeks before the town Zoning Board of Appeals considers the appeal of Owera Vineyards over a decision by the town codes enforcement officer denying Owera’s plans for a June 10 event. The delay in the case — originally heard by the board on June 23 — was decided after the CEO’s attorney filed a motion for the ZBA to dismiss the appeal altogether as “untimely,” claiming that Owera had missed the 60-day appeal deadline as required by law.

The motion to dismiss was filed with the ZBA the morning of its June 23 meeting on the issue. The board therefore decided to reschedule consideration of the appeal to July 28 to allow both its members and Owera’s attorneys time to digest the new filing and prepare revised arguments.

“It’s only appropriate, since the information was only received today, that both sides get the opportunity to give more information to the board before any public hearing is conducted,” said ZBA Chair Chris Fischer.

The appeal was the result of CEO Roger Cook’s April determination that a June 10 Owera event would violate the winery’s permitted operations because all outdoor events are required to end by 5 p.m., but the event as scheduled in the event tent was scheduled to end at 9:30 p.m. Cook determined that the operation of the tented event center is “considered to be outside” and therefore must end by 5 p.m.

Owera cancelled the event, then rescheduled it to occur from 1 to 4 p.m. on June 22.

Owera appealed the Cook’s decision on June 6, claiming his determination had caused — and would continue to cause — the winery financial hardship. Owera’s appeal continued the winery’s year-long disagreement with the town over whether its three-season events tent is an indoor, not an outdoor, structure as the town claims, and goes farther by claiming that the winery’s hours of operation as approved under its original site plan approval are not enforceable by the town.

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