A West Cape May winery and its owner are suing the borough and Mayor Pam Kaithern, alleging, among other things, that Kaithern has used her position to harass the winery.
Atlantic City law firm Hankin, Sandman and Palladino filed the complaint on behalf of Willow Creek Winery and owner Barbara Bray Wilde.
The complaint alleges that Kaithern, who lives across the street from the vineyard, directed inspection officials to issue baseless stop-work orders and citations, while ignoring violations on neighboring properties.
In 2003, the county paid Wilde $890,000 for a deed restriction that specifies 36 acres of the farm’s 50 acres must remain in agriculture, including the land under the building. Wilde now plans to hold weddings at the facility, which West Cape May officials have said could cause noise and traffic issues for neighbors.
The Department of Environmental Protection told The Press of Atlantic City last Thursday that the winery has passed all necessary inspections.
Wilde’s lawsuit alleges that Kaithern performs wedding ceremonies throughout Cape May and West Cape May, and that she is attempting to impede the winery in order to protect herself from competition.
It alleges that under the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Laws, because Kaithern owns property within 200 feet of Willow Creek Winery, she should have disqualified herself from official proceedings and actions.
Neither Kaithern, nor Borough Solicitor Frank Corrado were aware of the lawsuit until they were called for comment on Wednesday afternoon. The Press emailed copies of the complaint to both individuals but did not receive a response as of press time.
Contact David Simpson: