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Dairyman Winery has no Easement over Joe Rodota Trail


Dairyman Winery has no Easement over Joe Rodota Trail

Dairyman Opposition Group Asks County to Deny Easement over popular walking/bike path

Neighbors to Preserve Rural Sonoma County (PRSC), a 2-month old environmental organization with over 1,000 supporters, is challenging the proposed Dairyman Winery Event Center Project on Highway 12 between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol and has learned that the property owner has no deeded easement onto the property.

Representatives from the group met with Supervisor Efren Carrillo and county parks’ staff in mid-April to request denial of an easement based on the driveway’s crossing the popular Joe Rodota walking and bike path used by 650 people daily, in addition to concerns raised by CalTrans’ review of the developer’s application. PRSC representatives were informed by Supervisor Carrillo that Joe Wagner, the property owner, had agreed to an Environmental Impact Report and that the park department would make their recommendation whether to grant an easement or not, after all studies were in.

“We are asking the county to deny the easement under any circumstances,” said Padi Selwyn, co-chair of Neighbors to Preserve Rural Sonoma County. It is unfair to ask Mr. Wagner to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and 12 months of studies, plus untold hours of county staff time if he may not be able to get an easement on his property for commercial purposes.  We think the county has this backwards – the easement issue must come first,” she added.

Bicyclist on Joe Rodota Trail crosses Dairyman driveway

CalTrans warns that if this project were approved, " the use of the California Highway Patrol for traffic control at the intersection, shuttle buses, valet parking, encouraging car pooling and advanced public notice should be considered.”

Granting commercial easements over public trails has historically been denied by the County. A few years back, the Santa Rosa Junior College was denied an easement over a public path and had to scrap plans for a west county campus off highway 116 North after a court challenge. 

Cal Trans Department of Transportation has also expressed concern about the project, noting in their letter to the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department: “Major special events involving 300 and 600 guests may cause significant delays to SR (highway) 12. Temporary mitigation measures such as the use of the California Highway Patrol for traffic control at the intersection, shuttle buses, valet parking, encouraging car pooling and advanced public notice should be considered.” 

Dairyman Winery Event Center plans to hold 62 public events each year, according to their application.  In addition to the bike path crossing the driveway into the Dairyman property, opponents object to the industrial use of agricultural land, where Wagner plans to produce 500,000 cases of wine and 250,000 gallons of spirits, of which 99% of the grapes used will have to be trucked in. In addition to hundreds of visitors attending events and tastings weekly, there would be approximately 1,500 tanker and truck crossings to bring in grapes, juice, bottling supplies and outward shipments of product.

Aerial view of the Dairyman property along Hwy 12

Aerial view of the Dairyman property shows narrow driveway crossing Joe Rodota trail, used by 650 walkers and bicyclists daily. (photo by Bim)


"The proposed Dairyman Winery/Event Center would use over one billion gallons of California water annually in their production of wine and spirits during this drought,” said Selwyn.

“Because the state mandated 25% reduction in water use doesn't apply to farms at this time, local residents will be saving water so that a winery operator and visitors can use it for their profit and recreation. People are angry. It is not justifiable to expect residents to let their lawns go brown and curtail water usage while a Napa county vintner proposes an enormous project in the Laguna de Santa Rosa,” she added.