Posted on Categories Land Use, TransportationTags , , , , , Leave a comment on Two controversial winery development decisions appealed

Two controversial winery development decisions appealed

Two controversial decisions in an increasingly contentious battle over winery development in Sonoma County are being appealed, placing the issue squarely before the Board of Supervisors.In Dry Creek Valley, a group of neighbors is contesting the Board of Zoning Adjustments’ decision to allow Ken and Diane Wilson to build a 25,000-case winery northwest of Healdsburg.
The zoning board on April 16 approved the Wilsons’ permit to construct the new Hale Winery on their 40-acre vineyard, but a nearby resident submitted an appeal to the Board of Supervisors on Monday — the last day to file. Neighbors are taking issue with the number of events permitted, the analysis of potential traffic impacts from the winery, and the study gauging impacts of music and construction noise on neighbors.
“Dry Creek Road used to be a hidden gem, but it’s becoming a lot more popular than it was years ago — cars are screaming up and down there all the time,” said Andrew Dieden, who filed the appeal and lives on the thoroughfare that winds through the heart of Dry Creek Valley. “The increased traffic poses a potential safety threat.”
Ken Wilson said he was surprised to learn about the appeal late Monday. He reasserted the need for special events at his new winery and said he wouldn’t draw more traffic to the area during existing wine industry gatherings such as barrel tasting weekend.“
We just accept the traffic that’s already there. We don’t create it,” Wilson said. “And other events are very important to my bottom line — they do bring a lot of people to the area, and often times they are here with their checkbooks ready.”
The appeal against the Wilsons’ Hale Winery comes amid a pronounced backlash from rural residents — particularly in northern Sonoma County — who complain that the impacts of new and existing winery developments on their neighborhoods detract from the county’s rural character, and that the increased traffic from popular winery events threatens other motorists and cyclists in the area.
Winery owners also are pushing back. David DiLoreto, an owner of Hop Kiln Winery, an existing winery that is expanding on 79 acres on Westside Road in the Russian River Valley, filed an appeal earlier this month of the zoning board’s April 2 decision to restrict events to 12 total per year — half of what he sought — including eight industrywide events and four special gatherings.
Read more via: Two controversial winery development decisions appealed | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories Land Use, Sustainable LivingTags , , Leave a comment on Guy Fieri drops plans for winery outside of Santa Rosa

Guy Fieri drops plans for winery outside of Santa Rosa

Guy Fieri has decided not to fight a decision by Sonoma County planning commissioners to reject his proposed winery on a rural road west of Santa Rosa, an unexpected surrender from a celebrity chef whose network of nine restaurants now stretches across the country.
The decision represents the growing influence of neighbors and others who have spoken out against Fieri’s plans and other proposed or existing wineries that seek to double as event centers in bucolic county settings.
Representatives for grape growers and winemakers have admitted to unease in their ranks that the rejection of Fieri’s project could signal a stiffer regulatory stance at the county level for the area’s signature industry and the tourism business it generates.
“This has elevated our concerns,” said Bob Anderson, executive director of United Winegrowers for Sonoma County, which represents about 250 local grape growers and wineries.
The vote against Fieri’s proposal was exceptionally rare, one of only two winery projects rejected outright by planning commissioners in several decades, according to Sigrid Swedenborg, the veteran county planner who oversaw the Fieri winery proposal. It called for a 10,000-case winery at his 7.25-acre Willowside Road property, including a tasting room and permission to host 14 events a year.
Read more via Guy Fieri drops plans for winery outside of | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Land Use, Sustainable Living, Water, WildlifeTags , , , , , , , Leave a comment on Sonoma and Napa County residents oppose winery over-expansion

Sonoma and Napa County residents oppose winery over-expansion

Residents from throughout Sonoma County are meeting to strategize about challenging recent proposals for new and expanded wineries as event centers in rural areas. Meanwhile, the Napa County Board of Supervisors has scheduled a March 10 meeting to hear critics of winery over-development.
The huge Dairyman Winery and Distillery proposed for high-speed Highway 12 in the greenbelt separator between Sebastopol and Santa Rosa has been the main target of Sonoma County opponents. It is near the intersection of an already congested two-lane highway and the frequently-flooded Llano Road in the vulnerable Laguna de Santa Rosa vicinity.
Groups such as Sonoma County Conservation Action, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, Sebastopol Water Information Group, Rural Alliance, Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, and Apple Roots sent critical comments on Dairyman to Sonoma County’s Permit and Resource Management Department (PRMD).
Vocal Dairyman opponents include a former County supervisor, former mayor, former Planning Commissioner, and former PRMD planner. Environmental scientists, sustainability advocates, food farmers, concerned parents, and the maker of the acclaimed film “Russian River: All Rivers” have spoken against the Dairyman application.
Entrance to Dairyman Winery just east of busy intersection on Hwy 12
They oppose it on many grounds: congested traffic; water over-use, especially during droughts; blocking the popular Joe Rodota trail; damaging the fragile Laguna de Santa Rosa and its wildlife; zoning violations; chemical use that would pollute water, air, and land; and violating the Sonoma County General Plan.
Grape growers and the wine industry contribute many valuable benefits to Sonoma County. Most critics appreciate a good glass of local wine. But they advocate moderation when it comes to such proposals, contending that Dairyman is too big and in the wrong place.
Imagine tipsy tasters crossing the Joe Rodota Trail, full of bikers, skateboarders, children in strollers, walkers, and pets and then entering 60 miles-an-hour traffic. The application demands that Trail users “yield” to the winery’s many vehicles attending up to 58 events a year with as many as 600 people a time.
Read more via Sonoma and Napa County Residents Oppose Winery Over-Expansion.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Land UseTags , , Leave a comment on Napa County to explore the price of wine success

Napa County to explore the price of wine success

Napa County’s wine country is facing a type of soul-searching that often comes with wealth and fame – is it being true to its roots or in danger of being ruined by its own success?
Some people say there are too many wineries emphasizing too much tourism and generating too much traffic while sucking aquifers dry. Others say that Napa Valley’s agricultural paradise is in no danger of being paved over.
An activity that once seemed a natural in wine country – building wineries – is increasingly sparking debate. So far, the discussion has come largely on a piecemeal, project-by-project basis. That’s about to change.
The county Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission will meet on March 10 to discuss what Supervisor Diane Dillon has called “the big picture.” That could be just the beginning of a months-long public discussion that could shape Napa’s future.
Data will be important. County Planning, Building and Environmental Services Director David Morrison has mentioned using the latest traffic, tourism and growth information.
Read more via Napa County to explore the price of wine success.