Liquor authority approves Olney Place
NEW YORK--Some three months after voters in the town of Barrington overwhelmingly supported three proposals to allow alcohol sales at taverns, restaurants and hotels, the New York State Liquor Authority approved the license for The Olney Place on Keuka Lake, Tuesday, Feb. 6.
The hearing took place simultaneously via video at the three offices of the liquor authority. Authority officials were located in Manhattan, and others could speak in person at either the Albany or Buffalo location. A discussion about the history of The Olney Place and the much-debated tap room occurred before the authority ruled. In attendance last Tuesday, was Olney Place owner Seth Olney in Manhattan, his attorney Jessica Bryant in Buffalo, Barrington Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Tom Murrin in Buffalo, Barrington Councilwoman Sue Lange in Buffalo and a homeowner near The Olney Place, Donald Banzhaf, in Buffalo. Murrin, Lange and Banzhaf spoke first, all against the liquor authority approving the liquor license.
However, the liquor authority largely relied on a decision last year by Seneca County Court Judge Dennis Bender who ruled in favor of Olney. Barrington has appealed that decision and Tuesday, Feb. 20, those arguments will be heard.
"I would like to ask you not to make a decision at this point until the hearing on the appeal happens and then make a decision," said Barrington Councilwoman Sue Lange.
The authority responded, "I understand that, but you are at a midlevel appeal court which could take several months and then if you don't like the decision you could possibly go to the Court of Appeals which could take several years."
Lange responded, "We are not going beyond this."
The addition of the tap room and a small deck to access the adjacent lawn has resulted in a multi-year battle between The Olney Place and the town of Barrington. The town has argued the stated use of the space is different from how it was described in the permit process.
Referring to the special use permit submitted by Olney for the addition, Barrington Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Tom Murrin said, "[The] application described the use of the addition as additional seating for the deli and additional merchandising space."
The liquor authority cut in, "Here is my problem with that, he is already serving beer in the deli...he is telling you we need extra seats for our customers, do you think he is going to stop them from walking into the room where they are eating and say 'OK, you can come in because you are not drinking, but you can't?'...do you understand how nonsensical that is?"
The authority shortly after approved The Olney Place license to sell beer. This included the already permitted spaces, the additional tap room and allowing the use of the deck without tables or chairs. People may stand on the deck and consume beer, as well as use the deck to access the side lawn, the authority ruled. The outside areas will be available for consumption until 9 p.m. and the indoor areas until 10 p.m. They did, however, caution Olney this approval was subject to the upcoming appeal and if something materially changes at that court it could impact this finding.
"At this point, they have granted me permission to use my business as I have always intended it to be used for," said Seth Olney in a telephone interview after the decision. "Getting [the liquor authorities'] ear, getting them to hear my story, and getting their approval has always been my priority since day one."
Olney continued, "I [was] thrilled with [the voter] turnout, I couldn't be more proud of my constituents for sticking with me, and I'm very pleased with this current outcome."
Olney concluded the conversation saying, "As if it isn't hard enough to do business in New York state, to have a local government all but spend every resource that they cannot afford, in trying to tear you down, is incredibly disappointing."
"It's obvious there is an enormous amount of vitriol over this...," said the authority before they voted. "It's got to be one of the biggest packets...I've ever seen," referring to letters sent in about the decision.
The full video from the hearing can be seen at http://abc-state-ny.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1165.