SodaCanyonRoad | Dry Creek winery appeal - tipping point or same old?

Dry Creek winery appeal - tipping point or same old?

Bill Hocker | May 25, 2018 on: Tourism Issues

Update 8/14/18
NVR 8/14/18: Proposed Napa winery withdraws appeal to supervisors at last second

Update 5/25/18
Dry Creek-Mt Veeder Winery Appeal

On June 12th 2018 the Board of Supervisors will hear an appeal of the use-permit rejection by the Planning Commission on Apr 19th, 2018 for a proposed 30,000 g/y winery at the intersection of Dry Creek and Mt. Veeder Roads. Hearing Notice

One of only 3 use permits (out of 137) rejected by the planning commission since 2010, this proposed winery was squeezed onto a tight site with no vines and no established sourcing, requiring setback variances, off site disposal of cave spoils, bringing tourists and grape deliveries 3.8 miles up the Oakville grade from Hwy 29 to a remote area of the watershed.

It was an appropriate decision, an indication that industrial and commercial activities in the watersheds must now face increased scrutiny. It was a decision that the Supervisors should support by denying the appeal.

NVR 4/20/18: Napa Planning Commission rejects proposed Mount Veeder winery

Gary Margdant writes:

TODAY, of all days, with only 3 days until Earth Day, the Napa County Planning Commission turned, sorry, TURNED DOWN a WINERY PROPOSAL. (hearing video here)

A winery was proposed just down the road from my home on Mount Veeder, that had no grapes on the parcel, located on the corner of Mt Veeder Road and Dry Creek Road. Yet had 17,000 sq ft of caves, 30,000 gal capacity and a small home for the winemaker. squeezed into the only flat space of a 50 acre mountainous parcel

I opposed it as a neighbor and the President of the Mt Veeder Stewardship Council and produced the letters here and here to remind the PC of what was at stake....It is a residential neighborhood in the mountains with few homes visible from the road.... we like it that way, we moved up here just for that seclusion, but the owner had other ideas for, what I felt, was a spec winery.

It was not a huge fight, but rather a discussion of a shoehorn into the mountains of a winery that could not meet the 300 ft setback requirement from Mt Veeder Road. Not to mention the proximity of Dry Creek, a major spawning stream for Steelhead Trout. Joelle Gallagher, Terry Scott and Ann Cotrelle voted it down based on the square peg in the round hole argument, the inappropriate nature of the proposal on a site that had no grapes.

The proposal just did not fit the site, and it was obvious. They were trying to sneak the Cave Spoils off site and pretend that the road traffic, bicyclists and Trucks (remember the 12 ton limit). so they voted it down stating that even if it came back in a revised version, that it would remain unacceptable.

So we had a victory of sorts. They may appeal to the BOS but I welcome that as a time to continue our arguments to retain our neighborhoods. Vineyards, yes. Vineyards with a Winery, Maybe. Winery without a vineyard, NO.

I only wish this had happened 4 years ago.

Bill Hocker - Apr 20, 2018 8:45AM

This winery was the 2nd (or 3rd) to be denied a use permit by the planning commission since 2010. Girard was denied on a 2-2 split that was later approved on appeal. Flynnville in 2013 was continued, but denied in all but name. (A greatly reduced Flynnville project was eventually approved.) Yountville Hiill, of course, came famously close to being denied.

In all, some 134 wineries have been approved since 2010, so each of the minuscule number of denials is worth scrutinizing. The event is so rare that the commissioners had to ask county council what happens if they deny - what are the next steps. (The denial can be appealed to the BOS. The applicant can re-apply from scratch after one year.)

The Commission split along predictable lines. Comms. Basayne and Hansen, the development wing, voted to continue. Comms. Cottrell and Gallagher, the preservationist wing, voted to deny. Comm. Scott, appointee of the Dodd-Pedroza development establishment, went rogue here (as he has before) siding with the preservationists.

I want to believe that the denial represents some sort of direction - the tipping point that Gary Margadant referred to in his post. Particularly following on the Caldwell deliberation which generated a discussion about land use planning as something other than an accommodation to developer's business models.

But this was a project easy to criticize. Jammed by topography next to 2 roads and a creek, needing variances, with a huge cave and no place for spoils, and no room or suitability for vines, and no commitment on grape sourcing, the project had little to recommend it to the commissioners. It was, perhaps, a poor precedent to hang a trend on.

And yet, after the Caldwell continuance, which came quite close to a denial, in two projects in a row, this planning commission has delivered on the scrutiny needed to slow the proliferation of winery projects that are commercializing and urbanizing Napa's landscape. Is it a tipping point, a turning tide? Let's hope.

Ginna Beharry - Apr 18, 2018 9:30PM