Speaking out

Michelle Heemer speaks at last night's city council meeting about issues she has with VentiSei Winery on Wilson Avenue.

VentiSei Winery opened last fall in what had been a school house and later a church at 1409 Wilson Ave. on the city's South Side.

Its neighbors have had enough of what they called "daytime drinking," loud music and inconsiderate patrons parking on their lawns. Several on Thursday asked New Castle city council for help to resolve their problems.

Michael Thomas of Neshannock Township, said his late father lived next to the winery. He said amplified music, disc jockeys, drinks tossed over the fence and parking on his yard have lowered the property value on the house that his father meticulously kept.

"No one will buy a house with a band playing 30 feet from the bedroom," he said.

When the winery opened, he said, "there was no mention of a patio, food being served or a band. It was supposed to be a quiet winery. That is not what it has turned into. This has to stop," he told council. "People park in my yard. How can a bar set up in a residential area? Why does it continue?"

He added that he recently found a bra on the street in front of his house.

"This is unacceptable," Thomas said. "You sitting and doing nothing is unacceptable."

Dan Carbone of Addis Street, said he lived in the neighborhood for 61 years and had the same complaint.

"How did this happen?" he asked.

He said the owner, Denny Flora, had a meeting with neighbors when the bar opened, explaining the business would be a place where wine products could be tasted and purchased.

"Flora said he'd monitor it for noise but that doesn't happen," he said. "This must stop."

He added that Flora told neighbors that he'd put up a fence to keep patrons' headlights from shining into neighbors' windows.

"This too has not been done," he said.

A message left with Denny Flora at VentiSei winery Friday morning was not returned.

Council president Bill Panella and councilman Tom Smith, who said he too was also at the gathering and this is the first time he's heard complaints, said city solicitor Jason Medure will look into it.

Michelle Heemer, who owns property at 1410 Wilson Ave. said she was the only one at the zoning board hearing in May when Flora requested a variance to extend his hours so he could offer yoga, exercise classes and bridal and baby showers.

"I raised concerns about parking, kids in the area, day drinkers," she said. "It's a nuisance."

Heemer also told council that patrons leave no place to park. She offered council photos showing the parking situation and garbage — including a bra on the street last Saturday — which she said was left by the patrons.

"This used to be a quiet, serene neighborhood to live in," she said. "We don't oppose him doing what he wants with his property but at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. kids are out."

Dennis Digennaro of Wilson Avenue also complained about the noise and congested parking on the street.

He said he complained to the owner about the noise level.

"The following weekend it was even louder and lasted until 11 p.m." he said.



Nancy Lowry is a reporter at the New Castle News. Email her at nlowry@ncnewsonline.com

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