Melka Winery Appeal
on the web at: http://sodacanyonroad.org/forum.php?p=829
Bill Hocker | Jul 17, 2015

Update July 17, 2015: The BOS findings were to be finalized at their July 14th meeting but, after Supervisor Dillon put on her lawyer hat and began going through the nitty gritty of the findings pointing out unnecessary legal references, inconsistencies and substantive errors and taking legal staff and planning staff to task. In particular the finding directing the applicant to encourage the use of Silverado Trail, and the inconsistency of temporary use permit findings were called out. The approval of findings required postponing the finalization of findings and use permit until July 21st.
The findings as as redlined after this meeting are here.
The final Melka use permit is here

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Update June 3, 2015: NVR: Supervisors deadlock paves way for Melka Winery
In a long, punishing hearing the Melkas had their use-permit upheld. They were punished by a county attitude that has changed in the course of the permit process, by community opposition (including this site) that has grown highly critical of winery proliferation and the county's lax enforcement attitude, by a neighbor that has exploited their situation to his own gain, and now by vitriol in the comments to the article above. The winery proposed is small, the visitation low, the developer a hands-on winemaker committed to his craft, living on the site. Putting aside the variance (the winery is an extension of a building already there) and the finagling of a lot-line to create a 10 acre parcel (the most egregious of the Melksa's actions), this is the type of wine maker that needs to prosper in the county. The Titus winery across the street, 2.5 times the capacity, 14 times the visitation, also a setback variance, 3 acres of vineyard removal, large parking lot, a blot on a very nice view of the napa valley, and now a nasty exploitation of a neighbor's plight, had no issues with its permit. (In fact this NVR article didn't even mention the Titus approval in its report on contested Castelucci approval given the same day.) Such a difference a year makes.

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Phillipe and Cherie Melka hope to build a winery on the Silverado Trail just north of Deer Park Rd. The 10+ acre parcel was created by lot-line adjustment to enable the minimum needed for a winery, much to the consternation of the other neighbor who sold the property thinking that a commercial winery would not be possible.

The "dream" of a young winemaker (an issue at the APAC meetings) has run into the "new normal" of the use-permit process. The parcel is so small and constrained that a large variance is required into the 600' setback from the Trail, and variances have become a hot button issue. The planning commission approved the use permit on Mar 4th.

Now, Eric Titus, owner of the new winery across the street and a supporter of the Melka use permit, has appealed to force Melka to chip in for mitigated left turn lane they were required to build for their winery. (I suddenly had the urge to look up the word "duplicitous".)

In addition, a public interest appeal by Ginny Simms has been filed contesting many aspects of the use permit including the variance.

The appeal will be heard by the Board of Supervisors on June 2nd.
It is item 9A on the agenda including all previous documents
The agenda letter is here analyzing the appeals.



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