Town officials in Barrington have agreed to consult with the town’s attorney about a potential lawsuit related to the town’s handling of issues with the Olney Place store on State Route 54.
The town received a July 20 letter from Alan Knauf of Knauf Shaw LLP in Rochester which states that Olney Place neighbor Marion Louden and other neighbors were “very disappointed to learn that the town had decided not to enforce the zoning code against Mr. Olney or take any further action to ensure that Mr. Olney complies with the law.”
Olney Place owner Seth Olney operates a store, deli, and taproom at the location, but some town officials and neighbors say the taproom does not comply with local zoning code. On June 27, the town board unanimously agreed to take no further action on legal disputes between the town and Olney after the town’s appeal of a court decision which favored Olney failed. That, and a ruling by the New York State Liquor Authority cleared the way for Olney to serve beer from the taproom.
Knauf’s letter continues, “The neighbors are residents and taxpayers of the town and are entitled to the protections afforded them under the laws with the town’s employees and volunteers have agreed to uphold... the neighbors hearby demand that the town take immediate action to prohibit Mr. Olney’s unlawful and unpermitted use of the property. If the violations are not abated within 10 days, our clients may take legal action.”
Olney Place, located at 823 East Lake Road on Keuka Lake, sits near a number of lakeside residences and seasonal cottages on a site that has had a retail establishment for decades. It is within a Lake Residential District in the town’s zoning designations.
The store includes grocery, deli, and local items as well as gasoline sold from a dock at the lake. It is a business with a long history. Before Olney purchased the store in 2006, it had been known as “Froggy’s,” a small market and deli which also offered live bait and lakeside gas sales. Prior to being known as Froggy’s it was Kenyon’s.
That use, well established before any town zoning ordinances were adopted, was grandfathered to Olney by town officials. Olney replaced the original store building with a new structure, and in 2013, he was granted permission for the extension to the existing deli and market. That extension contains the tap room. A deck is located off the southwest corner of the building, and its steps lead to a lawn area where customers have consumed beer and food at picnic tables since The Olney Place opened.
Town officials and neighbors had attempted to prevent the sale of beer in the tap room, arguing Olney misrepresented the planned use of the addition when he applied for the building permit in 2013.
After the expansion of the market, neighbors complained to town officials about customers trespassing on private property, noise from gatherings at the business, and rude behavior of some customers. Their complaints led to a decision by the town’s zoning board of appeals to annually review the Special Use Permit for the addition and a small deck.
A cascade of lawsuits, complaints, and clashes between Olney supporters, town officials, and neighbors followed, with Olney prevailing in the courts.