Permit Sonoma publishes draft Winery Events Ordinance

By Katherine Minkiewicz, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, May 24, 2021

vineyard

Draft to come before the planning commission on June 3

On May 18, Permit Sonoma announced the publication of Sonoma County’s first draft Winery Events Ordinance, which would set new standards regarding parking requirements, food service, traffic control, event coordination and noise management for winery events.

The standards will provide a baseline for how the county balances the development of winery events and the preservation of agriculture areas when evaluating individual projects and their potential impacts and when considering new or modified use permit applications for winery-visitor uses.

According to a county press release, the draft ordinance provides consistency and clarity to the use permit evaluation process, reduces impacts to surrounding properties, protects agricultural lands, and preserves rural character.

“The wine industry plays a critical role in Sonoma’s economy,” Tennis Wick, director of Permit Sonoma, said in a statement. “We are proud to work with the industry and neighbors to develop regulations which balance winery needs while protecting our rural communities and agriculture.”

The winery events draft ordinance has been in the works for several years, during which time community outreach and stakeholder engagement took place to garner input and better inform the creation of the draft.

In addition to noise and traffic studies, there were several stakeholder meetings and a 195-person public workshop on Feb. 18.

“Additionally, Permit Sonoma has worked with three areas with a concentration of visitor-serving wineries in Sonoma Valley, Westside Road and Dry Creek Valley to establish supplemental local guidelines for their respective communities,” the press release states.

Permit Sonoma staff will present the draft ordinance to the county planning commission at a virtual public hearing on June 3 at 1:50 p.m.

Members of the public may watch, listen and participate in the hearing via Zoom, or by phone.

Written comments can be submitted through May 28, by 5 p.m. via email at PRMD-WineryEvents@sonoma-county.org.

The agenda and staff report for the planning commission public hearing will be posted one week before the hearing on the Planning Commission calendar at https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Planning-Commission/Calendar/Planning-Commission-Meeting-May-20-2021/.

Following the Planning Commission hearing, county staff expects to present a final draft of the ordinance to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors for approval on Aug. 17.

For more information about the public hearing, to submit comments, or to review project files digitally, members of the public can send an email to PRMD-WineryEvents@sonoma-county.org, call 707-565-1900, option 5, or visit the project website: www.sonomacounty.ca.gov/WineryEvents.

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