Local dispute garners regional media attention
BARRINGTON--The town of Barrington has probably received more regional media attention in the last few weeks than it has in a decade or more. Newspapers, and other media reports combined with social media, have made the dispute between the town of Barrington and The Olney Place one that extends far beyond Yates County.
Sunday, June 25, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle published a page three column in the A section detailing the long history between the business and the town. Since the newspaper is a Gannett property, the story has also been featured throughout the Southern Tier in sister publications.
The online comments posted about the story range from "Much ado about nothing" to a "True waste of taxpayer dollars."
The Finger Lakes Times of Geneva published a column about the dispute Wednesday, June 14.
The use of Facebook and other social media has allowed people to comment and often express support of The Olney Place, and owner Seth Olney.
At stake is how and where beer can be served at The Olney Place location. The addition of a deck and tap room are areas that have been scrutinized in how they were presented, permitted, actually built, their use after completion and marketing of the store.
The number of complaints by neighbors has also been a point of question. In a 2016 board meeting, Barrington Building and Zoning Officer John Griffin said "This situation has been anything but peaceful" and "lots of hearsay, lots of complaints." Olney previously said, "I feel at no point have I done anything to harm anyone."
Griffin was briefly fired Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016 before being reinstated the next Tuesday, Oct. 4. Details beyond the fact that Griffin was fired and then rehired were not released to the public. Olney sued Griffin for "defamation of character."
A video of Griffin, made by Griffin, visiting the establishment and claiming "the State Liquor Authority (SLA) has asked me, unfortunately, to come here" was posted to YouTube.
In May 2017, Seneca County Court Judge Dennis Bender ruled that the State Liquor Authority would make the determination if beer could be served in The Olney Place addition. Although town officials have not responded to many media questions from multiple sources and over a number of months, the town attorney, Richard Buck, has been quoted saying they plan to appeal the decision.
While the liquor authority has previously fined Olney, a pending license through the state could allow the store to again use the building addition as they once did. Currently, the taps in the back of the store are out of service.
Legal fees for Olney and Barrington continue to accumulate.
The regular Barrington Town Board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 28 at 7 p.m.