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Sour grapes: Owera Vineyards appeals codes officer decision denying scheduled event to zoning board

— After a quiet spring, the controversy between Owera Vineyards and the town of Cazenovia over the winery’s allowed operating procedures has reared up again — this time in the form of an appeal to the town zoning board of appeals over a recent decision by the town codes enforcement officer denying Owera’s plans for a June 10 event. The winery is repeating its previous claim that its three-season events tent is an indoor, not an outdoor, structure as the town claims, and is offering a new argument that its hours of operation as approved under its original site plan approval are not enforceable by the town.

The issue arose after Owera Vineyards scheduled a Jewish Community Center annual meeting and awards ceremony to be held from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on June 10 in its events tent. Under Owera’s original 2012 site plan approval, all outdoor events — and the town considers the event tent to be an outdoor structure because it is not permanent — must end by 5 p.m.

Town Codes Enforcement Officer Roger Cook determined that the event would violate the winery’s permitted operations because it would not end by 5 p.m. and because the operation of the tented event center is “considered to be outside.” Owera subsequently rescheduled the event to occur on June 22 from 1 to 4 p.m.

On Friday, June 6, Owera’s attorneys at Menter, Rudin and Trivelpiece filed an appeal of Cook’s decision with the Town Zoning Board of Appeals, claiming that the decision, “was not supported by either the town code or Owera’s site plan approvals and it conflicted with both plain language and common sense … [and therefore] lacked a rational basis and is therefore arbitrary and capricious or an abuse of discretion.” Owera’s appeal also claimed that the decision would have a “significant impact” on the winery’s future operations.

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