Supreme Court of New York Appellate Division upholds Bender's decision about Olney Place alcohol license.

UPDATE: Barrington Town officials are meeting with their attorney June 21 to review the memorandum and order released by the Appellate Division. This article will be updated as soon as possible after that meeting. 

After more than two years, customers at The Olney Place on Keuka Lake are able to drink a beer that is drawn from the taps on the bar in the tap room at Seth Olney’s deli and market.

Olney learned last Friday, June 15, that his argument prevailed in a case before the Supreme Court of New York Appellate Division. The appeal had been filed by the Town of Barrington in response to a decision by Acting Yates County Judge Dennis Bender, who ruled in May 2017 that the New York State Liquor Authority has exclusive jurisdiction to grant a liquor license.

Town officials and neighbors had attempted to prevent the sale of beer in the tap room that was added to the market in 2014. They argued Olney misrepresented the planned use of the addition when he applied for the building permit in 2013.

Olney’s original SLA license had permitted the sale of beer for on site consumption from the original store, and after adding the 30x20 taproom, he needed to apply for a license to cover the additional space.

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 lead 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 drove a wedge in a small town where families have lived side-by-side for generations.

During those disputes, it was discovered that State Liquor Authorities had lost track of an obscure local law that prohibited any sales of alcohol for on-site consumption in the town of Barrington. In November, town residents voted to authorize all sales of alcohol within the town, and the state liquor authority ultimately ruled that Olney was legally permitted to sell alcohol in the new taproom.

When the SLA granted the license Feb. 6, New York State Liquor Authority Commission Chairman Vincent Bradley cautioned Olney, “This whole thing is conditional on the court decision staying the same.”

Monday afternoon Olney smiled broadly as he served beer to a couple of customers, and showed them the video feed of the SLA hearing, pointing out Bradley’s statement.

Now, as Olney looks forward to a busy summer season, he’s also keeping an eye on Town of Barrington business, notably the possibility of revisions to the town’s zoning code, which could have an impact on future business plans in the town. The town’s comprehensive plan was updated in May 2016, which could lead to revisions to town codes.

Barrington town officials were not available for comment before press time.