The proposal the Landino family presented to the Town Plan and Zoning Commission to operate a vineyard and tasting facility on their ten-acre, Derby Avenue property was considerably less grand than the one they first discussed with the town’s Zoning Enforcement Officer two years ago.
In 2013, in an informal meeting with Paul Dinice, the Landinos proposed a 15,000 square foot building that could accommodate 200 guests and 150 cars on the property. Though the family never formally submitted that proposal, talk was rampant around town that the family intended to operate a banquet facility on the property similar to the Cascade banquet hall they currently own in Hamden.
At the April meeting of the TPZC, Attorney Tom Lynch submitted a proposal on behalf of the family to add a 5,878 square foot building to an existing 2,733 square foot structure that would accommodate a wine making production and tasting facility. The building would include a 720 square foot kitchen to prepare “light fare” for patrons like cheese plates, breads and other foods that would complement the wine. Farm-fresh products like home-made roasted red peppers and pies would also be sold on the site. The family plans to grow its own grapes and do all bottling on the premises. “The proposed building is really scaled back,” Lynch said. “This would be a good amenity for the town.”
The Orange Police Department approved traffic study plans after addressing concerns about patrons exiting the property onto a one-way thoroughfare. To accommodate traffic flow, a left-lane traffic light on the southbound side of Derby Avenue will be changed to permit U-turns.
Though more than 50 residents had signed a petition a few years ago opposing the building of a 15,000 square foot facility, only two residents in attendance voiced concerns about the project at the meeting. Ridge Road resident Ken Lenz who is also a selectman, questioned whether the project had an adequate septic system and pointed out traffic, noise and activity could be excessive in a residential area. Lenz cautioned that the proposal had the potential to “creep” into something larger. “We have to be mindful of their last proposal and that they own a banquet hall,” he said. Green Hill Road resident Kevin Cornell echoed Lenz’s warnings about the project “creeping.” “When the rubber hits the road is it truly going to be used for what the application is saying?” Cornell asked.
TPZC chairman Walter “Beau” Clark sited two zoning regulations designed to address scale and scope of approved farm stand sales standards. One regulation states that sales must be “incidental to the permitted principal farm,” while the other states, “the range of agricultural products for public sale and/or processing shall consist primarily of products of the operator of a farm but may include additional agricultural products when the total annual product to be sold or processed does not exceed the total product of the operation of a farm. “Making that determination is difficult,” Clark said.
When the family and Lynch could not answer specific questions about how many acres will be designated for grape growing or the dimensions of different areas of the building, the Commission asked the family to return in May with more details. The commission also asked for a complete list of items that would be prepared and sold on site. “We want to see floor plans, so we know how much of the total area is dedicated for what,” Clark said. “We have to base our decision on facts, not necessarily the concerns of the neighbors.”
In 2011, parents Antonietta and Pietro Landino and daughters Sara, Alexa and Rosamaria Ponte Landino, purchased 10 acres of the 25-acre parcel known as “The Preserve,” with the intention of building a winery. The family plans to restore the windmill on the property and name the vineyard Windmill Winery. The property, located on Derby Avenue near Racebrook Road, was formerly owned by the Legionnaires of Christ. The remaining 15 acres of the property are owned by Racebrook Estates LLC.
By Laura Fantarella – Orange Town News Correspondent