No ruling on cease-and-desist against Lebanon County winery

N. CORNWALL TWP., Pa. - No ruling was made Wednesday after a Lebanon County winery and township officials made their case before the township's zoning hearing board about a cease-and-desist notice issued in August.

The township has accused the Royal Oaks Vineyard and Winery of violating the terms of its business permit, ranging from the permission to welcome food trucks to the playing of music.

"You were exceeding what you were approved to do, so they were complaining that the food trucks, the music was all part of a commercial entertainment venue, so to speak, and not what you were approved to do," said Tom Long, the township manager, during cross-examination.

The winery and township had a temporary agreement in place after an initial hearing scheduled in October that was set to expire Wednesday without a permanent solution.

The winery claims discussion toward that never took place, even though it acted in good faith to comply with the temporary agreement.

"In those 30 days, we were supposed to get with the township to negotiate, to come up with some kind of agreement," said Becky Firestone, the winery's general manager. "We tried to do that and that didn't happen. The township was not interested in meeting with us. They said that a meeting would not be beneficial."

Township officials testified Wednesday three residents filed complaints with the township about music and chatter at the winery. FOX43 contacted those residents, who directed requests for comment to Keith Kilgore, their attorney. Kilgore did not make himself available for comment before the hearing, but participated in it.

Other neighbors said they support the efforts of the winery.

"The music is a delight, and we hear some people talking from time to time, but we're in an agricultural area, so there's a lot of farming," said Robert Bechtel, who lives next-door to the winery.  "There's really no issue with people talking and having a glass of wine."

The hearing was continued until January 10th at 6 p.m.