The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
| more

Photo Gallery

Dairyman Winery/Event Center faces CalTrans safety concerns


Dairyman Winery/Event Center faces CalTrans safety concerns

By Padi Selwyn 

Local agencies are responding with issues and concerns about the controversial Dairyman Winery/event Center application, proposed to be located on Highway 12 between Sebastopol and Santa Rosa.

The California Department of Transportation reviewed the project application and raised significant traffic related issues that they expect the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department to address, including:

“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.”

Caltrans noted that the impact of weekly events with 100 or more people would be considerable. They also voiced safety issues related to the driveway of the Dairyman property which crosses the popular Joe Rodota trail, used daily by 650 bicyclists and walkers.

In addition, the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation has raised a number of concerns about the project’s environmental impact.

“The project is an industrial use that we think is inappropriate in the community separator,” stated their letter to the County Permit Department. “This large wine and spirits production facility will use huge amounts of water….it could be in the hundreds of millions of gallons per year.”

Dairyman Winery and event center plans to hold 62 public events each year.  In addition to the bike path crossing the driveway into the Dairyman property, there are objections to the industrial use of agricultural land, where Napa vintner, Joseph 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 annually. In addition to hundreds of visitors attending events and tastings weekly, there would be approximately 1,500 tanker and truck crossings annually to bring in grapes, juice, bottling supplies and outward shipments of product.

The Rural Alliance, a local grassroots organization working to preserve the natural resources and rural character of Sonoma County, has noted water use and traffic related concerns and believe that constructing 57,000 square feet of buildings with related road infrastructure on LEA zoned parcels could set a dangerous precedent.

Because of these issues, 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.

Representatives from the group met recently with Supervisor Efren Carrillo and county parks’ staff to request denial of an easement, as the project driveway crosses the popular Joe Rodota walking and bike path. The property owner does not have a deeded legal easement for uses stated in his application; a large commercial industrial and retail venture. PRSC representatives were informed by Supervisor Carrillo that the property owner had agreed to an Environmental Impact Report and that the park department would make their recommendation regarding the easement, after all studies were in.

Granting commercial easements over public trails has been denied by the County in the past. 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.