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Upper Residents Oppose Proposed Winery

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By Camille Sailer

PETERSBURG – Upper Township Committee’s Nov. 22 meeting was a magnet to Beesley’s Point residents drawn by the approved application for a farm in their neighborhood to transform itself into a winery.  

Seating in committee chambers was taken by dozens of concerned property owners, parents, and interested neighborhood denizens who waited for their chance to air their worries and frustrations about the process and substance of the application. They had their opportunity during public comment.  

Edward Price, of Beesley’s Point, summarized the issues that had neighbors organized and ready to legally oppose the concept, like introducing traffic, noise, drinking, parking, safety problems, and overall disruption to their quiet streets.  

Price said, “We understand the recent county farm board meeting approved the application of the farm, located on Bayaire Road, in Beesley’s Point, for a winery. We believe the right term for what they’re proposing is an ‘entertainment venue.’  

“We are seriously worried, and I’m speaking for the nearly 40 neighbors who have organized and our numbers are growing, that what is planned will affect our property values and even more importantly, the safety of our families.  

“Upper Township doesn’t even have its own police force, so who could we call for help when needed? Most of our neighborhood is composed of cul-de-sac streets and we can’t help but wonder where all the parking for customers is supposed to go.”   

Other residents followed Price to the podium, adding new issues such as chemical spraying with inadequate buffer zones between fields and residential areas.  

Several residents urged the municipality to “get engaged, help us to protect our neighborhood. We are not even sure what the process is, where are the written minutes of the farm board meeting, and why have we not been included in notifications and the decision-making.”  

Another resident added that it seems the winery, once operational after three years, intends to start offering events such as weddings that will include music.  

“We are going to have another situation like the Deauville, in Strathmere, which has pushed the limits of what is allowed to the detriment of the neighborhood,” the resident said. 

Mayor Richard Palombo said he, the committee, and municipal administration want to support the residents, but needed to be careful to “not prejudice any future Planning or Zoning Board deliberation and decision. That would cause legal problems for everyone down the road.”  

Solicitor Dan Young said he would research the necessary timelines of notification and implementation of the application, so that neighbors would have this additional information.  

No resolution as to the way forward was indicated by any of the participants in the discussion. Residents, however, were adamant that they would continue to engage through the legal process all means at their disposal to rein in the farm’s aspirations to become a commercial operation. 

To contact Camille Sailer, email csailer@cmcherald.com. 

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