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Southold Town Police Traffic Control Considered for Harbes’ Winery

The Southold Town Planning Board weighs police traffic control as option in Harbes Farm winery proposal.

Traffic control is one of the last hurdles before the can proceed with their application to expand existing winery operations at their Sound Avenue farm stand in Mattituck — and the help of a traffic control officer might be the best option.

Southold Town Planning Director Heather Lanza said at Monday’s board meeting that the proposal of an additional retail winery and wine production facility to an existing small tasting room has been on the table for four years. How to deal with the additional traffic the facility will create has been a sticking point.

“There are real traffic issues on both side of the road,” Lanza said of one of the most congested areas on the North Fork during the fall, when pumpkin pickers, farm stand goers and wine tasters clog the shoulders of Sound Avenue with vehicles.

Though Harbes’ winery plans call for the addition of a large parking area in the back of their farm stand facilities on the north side of the road, people will be crossing the road to get to activities and retail sales on both sides.

The suggestion of hiring a police traffic control officer to man the crossings during peak times has been on the table before — much to the chagrin of , who was captain of the force at the time.

“Flatley didn’t feel that it was the best thing  — if Harbes has one then everyone will want one and it was a question of manpower,” Lanza said. “But this is a pretty unique situation.”

Lanza said that Harbes proposed to partially fund the labor of the traffic control officer during peak times. Planning Board member Don Wilcenski said that with the intensity of traffic in that particular corridor and the recent accidents it has caused as is, traffic control is a necessity.

“A lot of vineyards hire security companies, but they end up being just hired help with insurance,” Wilcenski said. “That spot on Sound Avenue is really the beginning of the corridor into Southold Town — I think the traffic control officer is the best bet. It might set the tone for other parcels.”

Lanza said she would speak with the police department to work out rates and hours of a possible traffic control officer at Harbes.

Originally vegetable farmers, the Harbes family got into the winery business in 2003.

Kim October 04, 2011 at 11:26 AM
Then how about one at Pindar and Krupski's on the Main Rd.?
local resident October 04, 2011 at 11:33 AM
It is about time. Harbes should have paid for traffic control of some sort years ago! It is an major accident/death waiting to happen. Their customers/guests walk out in the street in front of cars as if they are still upisland and it is their "right" to do so. Traffic flow is severly compromised. Cars slow down then suddenly "stop" in lane while their driver decides if he should visit or stop and where he should park, causing those behind him to hit their brakes and swerve. My family tries to avoid that stretch of street in the fall at all costs since we have been lucky to barely avoid hitting either a pedistrian or a car but it is difficult to do, since we just live a short distance west of their "agritainment complex" and are forced to make major detours just to go about our daily business.
lori guyer October 04, 2011 at 11:41 AM
FINALLY! before something really horrific occurs. I was witness to a wagon with little ones being pulled by some idiot across the street right into oncoming traffic.
Erin Schultz (Editor) October 04, 2011 at 12:17 PM
Vin Tirelli said on Facebook: "Thats ridiculous....its a case of too many cars and not enough roads...a traffic control officer won't help...people drive like idiots and thats the simple fact."
mhorine1 October 04, 2011 at 01:04 PM
I love Harbes and what they offer to the community, but it's a smidge ridiculous that their 3 facilities are pretty much 90% of the traffic backups in Sept./Oct. (unscientific #s, of course). I'm glad the problem is at least recognized.
j October 04, 2011 at 02:15 PM
That section of road is clogged for miles in both directions. Truly do not think that police direction at the crossing would do any good. You would need several in order to cover the whole crossing area. The only time the road is passable is when it is raining. Parking there is dangerous for the customers. Pulling in, backing out, trying to hold onto their kids and load pumpkins, too. How about a crosswalk bridge?
JOMAC October 04, 2011 at 02:17 PM
Vin, factually correct. However, we cannot change either of those facts, so let's work with what we've got. Harbes can WELL afford to pay for the full cost of a T.C.O. at that site, for whatever part of the season that they produce the traffic issues. It's mostly a CASH business, and we all know what the benefits of that are. Ante Up!
Vin Ricciardi October 04, 2011 at 02:23 PM
I avoid Harbes like the plague. To many citidiots on that road for me. People crossing the streets between parked cars with their pull-wagons on a stretch of road that's marked for 45mph. A traffic control officer may help - but I don't want to pay for any of it. Bill Harbes entirely so other vineyards don't expect the same on the taxpayers dime.
Benja Schwartz October 04, 2011 at 03:32 PM
The issue of appropriate use of farmland development rights is not settled. Planning new businesses with TCOs (Traffic Control Officers) is not a solution. Southold Town farmstands are developing as agritainment / agri-tourism destinations. We need to plan for success. There is plenty of good reading online: http://www.whitehutchinson.com/leisure/agritainment.shtml http://www.oregonlive.com/living/index.ssf/2009/10/agri-tainment_offers_fun_on_th.html
Jonathan Allen October 04, 2011 at 06:03 PM
I have not studied the Town of Southold's traffic code regarding who can control/direct traffic. When a utility or construction company blocks a road they are required to have trained traffic controllers (flaggers) on the street to control the traffic. Can this not be considered the same? The Town needs to draw up an ordinance, if it does not already have one addressing all types of traffic problems and when traffic control is necessary for all roads from Laurel to Orient Point. This avoids anyone saying they are being targeted. It would then force the business to hire people approved for traffic control, whether it be flaggers, persons trained as fire police, but acting on their own to be the control persons. They also need to set parameters, perhaps based on sales, car volume or some other metric, for how many controllers are needed. This would settle the issue when several businesses are having events such as September 17th & 18th when congestion was heightened with Harbes and Martha Clara having their regular events and Hallockville Museum having the Fall Festival. A more expensive and less pleasing esthetically, would be to have the businesses pay for widening the road in their area, allowing a turning lane to be installed, where turning traffic could be stacked allowing thru traffic to move. Also what about making specific cross walks where the crossing could be controlled more easily, with those who ignored it being ticketed for jaywalking, if that is illegal?
wayne sailor October 04, 2011 at 10:12 PM
I'm not sure what Mr.Wilcenski's comment in regards to Security being hired help with insurance,such a false statement. First I would like to say I own a Security company which services 7 local wineries which have no issues with traffic during weekends or special events.The Security Staff coupled with the winery have a reservation list with very specific times of arrivals and guest amounts this offsets the traffic incoming and exiting from these well run establishments with ample onsite parking. Now lets travel to County RT. 48 on any given weekend Vineyard 48 has between 20-25 coach buses, limos, party rides, vans as well as private vehicles. I see that they are now setting up orange cones to reserve spots on a County Road is that private parking for there winery or should there be a TCO at that location?? If Harbes farm was on 48 this would not be an issue because there is 2 lanes east and 2 west. We live in a Farm community this could all be turned under and made into houses I don't think anyone wants to see that? Another option would be to expand the 495 to Orient that would free up the conjestion...NEVER. So lets have a plan, maybe by Mr Wilcenski and his board on how to properly and FAIRLY make a traffic plan and enforce it. I don't think putting a Southold Town TCO on the payroll of a private business is the solution. Where does that end?? Just Saying!!
Anne B October 05, 2011 at 04:26 PM
When will the Town finally say enough is enough?! I don't begrudge anyone from earning a living but these farmstands are so much more than the roadside stand of years ago. There is no real solution to the traffic situation but it should be the farmers responsibility to make sure that their "guests" can cross the road safely. The problem with traffic exists not just at the Harbes Farm, although they have a unique situation with businesses on both sides of the road, the Town can not be expected to provide the staff or the funds to direct traffic for these businesses. So if the Harbes family would like to open a Vineyard than perhaps a solution would be to find another location so that the current traffic situation at the Sound Avenue location is not made worse. It is time for the Town to say enough is enough to the number of businesses that are run from one location or in this case on both sides of the road. I have known the Harbes family for many, many years and they are great people, I am glad they make their living off the land but we are losing sight of the country farming community we all have loved all these years.
Erin Schultz (Editor) October 05, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Melissa said via email: "Short term, to ease congestion, the town should not permit Harbes to run an operation on both sides of the North Road. Even with one operation they will require extensive traffic control. Longer term the town should restrict the number, size and location of establishments operating shops, stands, tasting rooms etc., on the north road as each year there are increasing numbers of new entrants with faux pumpkin patches..."
Mike Burke October 05, 2011 at 10:27 PM
The Harbes empire will continue to grow. They are very smart business people that's for sure. The Town of Southold needs to have the parking areas of their business clearly enclosed with exits and entrances and cross walks available. There should not be a crossing traffic control officer at the location paid by the township. The need itself has to be addressed. How many accident have occured at the location to date? Traffic is at a walking pace as it is. Lets do research on the need for a control officer. Sure everyone wants to move along but the issue is that there is too big an area for traffic leaving the compound on both sides to exit into east and west bound traffic. Traffic control is the main issue and needs to be corrected in my opinion.
William Swiskey sr October 06, 2011 at 01:58 AM
If this were a Mcdonald's the town wouldn't allow this situation, just don't approve the site plan, without one side of the road parking and an adaquate traffic plan, The town regulates where you put a driveway for private homes. They have the power,they will use it on Joe Average, Why not Harbes or are they different then Joe or Mickey D.
Eric October 06, 2011 at 08:49 PM
i agree. reason being because i am the one in the middle of the road directing.... not trying to stereotype here, but the "city people" are the worst and think they own the road... i have come close to being hit before and i would not feel comfortable standing out on Sound there.. and half the people who would be crossing that road wouldn't even use the coned out area for a crosswalk where a TCO would be stationed, they would just walk out in front of a car instead.
Kyle munson October 07, 2011 at 08:48 PM
Private Security LOL what a joke makes me think of Paul Blart mall cop. Just what this town needs a bunch of private clowns directing traffic.
Donald Wilcenski October 09, 2011 at 07:59 PM
No disrespect or offense was directed at Mr Sailor or any other security company working the special events in the Town of Southold. The issue is controlling traffic in congested areas of the town on the roadways. Don Wilcenski
JOMAC October 09, 2011 at 08:57 PM
Having just returned from a Fire Dept. Rescue Call at one of the local Wineries, where there are two wineries on one side and 2 farmstands on the other side, I will offer the following: We need to sit down and come up with a comprehensive plan that ensures the public's safety first, and then accomodates the business aspect of these establishments. I have NEVER seen traffic, like I saw today, and this was on Route 25. We have Pumpkin pickers and wine afficianados, combined with day trippers, sightseers, and the local public trying to get from Point A to Point B. Local events, while a welcome boon to the businessed, NUST be balanced with public safety. If not, it is simply a question of "WHEN" the next catastrophe will strike, and it will be too late for THAT victim and their family and friends. Let's sit down, and be productive with ideas. Maybe bring in the NYS DOT and see if we can tunnel under 25 and 48? Similar to the Jones Beach underpasses. There is enough Real Estate at these venues, to sacrifice a little bit, to ensure public safety. Just an idea to get the thought processes rolling... Anyone else?
The Equalizer October 10, 2011 at 02:27 PM
Am I reading this correctly? WE are going to pay for a cop to control Harbes traffic? Am I missing something? Who is running this town? Harbes is currently in front of the planning board for a winery that ALREADY EXISTS??? I know its open... I have been there. Is this not against the law? Didn't the town DENY Sherwood House the opportunity to go through the planning board process because they were opened illegally? Why does Harbes get special treatment? If the winery doesn't have approvals, I'll bet he has other illegal stuff there... I am dumbfounded. The town is actually considering helping control traffic flow for an ILLEGAL winery while refusing to let another one open in a LEGAL location. I guess it is still who you know... pathetic.

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