Kenwood Press

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News: 03/01/2020

VJB permit hearing postponed

A county hearing to consider VJB Vineyards & Cellars’ request for modifications to its existing use permit has been put off again while VJB and county planners wrangle over the impacts of proposed changes to its septic system.

After numerous filings over the years involving modifying its permit, VJB’s public hearing in front of the county’s Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) was finally scheduled for February. But neither of the Sonoma Valley representatives on the BZA were able to make that meeting, so a new date was set for March 12.

Now that date has been put off to an as-yet-to-be-scheduled date, according to the county planner on the project Blake Hillegas.

At the request of VJB’s attorneys, the county will be reevaluating VJB’s new septic design, probably requiring a recirculation to relevant local and state agencies of a county environmental analysis issued in January.

Specifically, VJB is objecting to the county’s conclusion that the design capacity of the proposed new system is inadequate to handle VJB’s peak number of customers.

VJB recently conducted two septic analyses in February they say counter the county’s conclusions. This prompted VJB’s request for further discussions with county planners.

In those discussions, VJB’s attorneys have also asked to “touch upon” issues involving original requirements by the county regarding access to the site from Sonoma Hwy. The county has long maintained that a left turn lane should be installed on Sonoma Hwy. into Shaw Avenue. VJB has argued, in part, that right-of-way constraints make the turn lane infeasible.

In exchange for the possibility of the county removing the turn lane requirement VJB has proposed to limit their hours of operation as well as eliminate a previously approved option to hold 15 special events a year.

VJB’s request for modification of its use permit also includes a way to decrease parking issues, a longtime concern with nearby neighbors.

VJB is proposing to build a 53-space parking lot on property they own right across the street from the winery’s Shaw Avenue entrance. They are also proposing to prohibit on-street parking on both sides of Shaw Avenue from the highway to Clyde Avenue.

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