SOUTHOLD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It started small with just three wineries in the 1970s. Now there are more than 50, and the industry on Long Island is still growing.
Is it a good thing?
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, some want a halt to what they call a free-for-all on the North Fork.
A week after all charges were unexpectedly dropped against the limo driver in the North Fork winery tragedy, and the pickup operator’s day in court was postponed, Southold’s town supervisor is considering a temporary ban on new wineries.
“A lot of industries are focused on alcohol consumption, as a community we have to figure out when does the sponge become full-step back and say maybe this is more than we can handle as a small town,” Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said.
The North Fork is bursting at the seams with daily construction, and eight new applications pending to open wineries that would join the 50 vineyards already established, several more breweries, a hops farm putting in poles, and a moonshine distillery in Long Island wine country.
“Growing up there was never this much traffic. It seems like every year it’s getting worse and worse,” Sarah Gilbert said.
Traffic is a concern on winding two lane roads.
Recently CBS2 showed viewers a stretch limo stuck trying to make a u-turn with wine tasters aboard.
Tourists say they are responsible.
“We will probably going to three more before we leave, but we are having lunch and being very conservative in terms of drinking. We don’t want to drink and drive,” Paul Maugle said.
The town supervisor feels town code hasn’t kept up with the dramatic changes and favors a temporary halt to plan for the future.
The Long Island Wine Council and the Long Island Farm Bureau said their industry should have the ability to grow and thrive.
“A moratorium should be a last resort and at this time we haven’t really heard what the major concerns are or gotten anything in writing to address them,” Jessica Anson said.
So how do residents feel?
“I think the wineries are a wonderful addition to eastern Long Island,” Barry Barth said.
Any moratorium is at least a month away. Before voting the town board must first hold a public hearing.
The Wine Council and Farm Bureau said they want to work with the town to come up with a fair solution.