By Janee Law
A public hearing regarding the potential construction of a winery on a 10-acre parcel of land in Northport, directly adjacent to an elementary school, is slated for the Huntington Town Planning Board’s next meeting in December.
The planning board on June 17 granted conditional site plan approval to applicant Frederick Giachetti for his proposal to build Del Vino Vineyards at 29 Norwood Road, immediately east of Norwood Avenue Elementary School, but granted approval with the understanding that Giachetti would revisit the board for a second site plan approval before building.
Since the June date, Giachetti said that a cover crop was planted on the plot to create “stability in the soil” and “prevent runoff” for the coming year when he hopes that Del Vino will begin planting its vines.
An attorney by trade, Giachetti says that he’s purchased 6,000 grapevines for an anticipated planting in April, and that the vines were procured from nurseries located in New York, Washington and California.
“We are in the process now of looking forward to this next step in going before the planning board to discuss the renovation of the old farmhouse that’s about 90 years old,” said Giachetti. “We’re going to renovate that into our tasting room, and we’re also going to add an approximately 2,000-square-foot winery barn where we’ll actually produce the wine in.”
That approval could be given after an opportunity for public input when the board meets Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. at Huntington Town Hall.
That input started early for residents of Northport-East Northport school district when officials hosted a brief public meeting Monday evening focusing on the proposed vineyard.
Attorney John Gross, counsel to the school board, gave a presentation on the proposed site plan for the vineyard, which would include a vegetable garden, cold food preparation area, tasting rooms and a catering operation.
“The board certainly is keenly interested in what is going to go here to make certain that the school operation is minimally impacted next door,” Gross said.
The presentation had at least one parent in the district concerned.
“I feel like it's dangerous,” Nicole Mulholland, 43, of Northport, a mother of two Norwood students said in an interview after the meeting. “I think I’d have to be convinced otherwise. What are they going to do to protect our kids and the community?”
Clarifying her point, Mulholland made a comparison, “Would you put a bar next to a school?”
Giachetti said the vast majority of people in the neighborhood are for the winery and that it’s one of the few projects out there that is “green.”
“The fact that it’s going to be a local, small boutique style will make it very unique to the wine industry versus what they have out east.”