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.