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Supervisors approve Temecula Wine Country expansion plan


Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
Issue 49, Volume 17.
Paul Young


RIVERSIDE - In what was described as a "historic" vote, the Board of Supervisors today approved the establishment of zoning standards expected to define the shape and character of a roughly 19,000-acre swath of Riverside County -- officially known as the Temecula Valley Wine Country -- for decades to come.

"This is a wonderful jewel within our county that we have to preserve and protect," said Supervisor Jeff Stone, whose district encompasses the area and who was a driving force behind the concept.

"This is a blueprint for a vision I've had now for many, many years. There's no perfect plan. But we've put forth our best effort for a successful wine country ... and a document that will survive the test of time."

The board voted 4-0 -- with Supervisor Marion Ashley departing the meeting early to attend to other business -- to amend the southwest county region general plan by incorporating new zoning designations and to tentatively certify an environmental impact report. The action followed 3 1/2 hours of public testimony during which around 40 speakers addressed the board.

There was no outright opposition to the Temecula Valley Wine Country Plan in its entirety, though a number of speakers objected to a trails map that proposed a network of bicycle, equestrian and hiking paths that traversed private land in some places.

"We're talking about property rights. This is not just about someone riding a horse on a nice sunny day," said a Citrus Heights resident who identified herself as Laura. "We've worked hard to own land around Temecula. This trail system would affect each of the parcels we possess."

Said Richard Bowman: "I don't object to neighbors hiking and biking near my house, but I do mind strangers coming by who are out for a day of entertainment. It would create a nuisance to our privacy and lifestyle. I don't want businesses making money at the expense of our privacy."

Though Stone underscored the fact that the trails component was only conceptual and would require additional hearings, he ultimately shared residents' concerns about private property interests being compromised and took the proposal out of the wine country plan.

"This is a historic day in Riverside County," Stone said. "I've heard my constituents loud and clear. I understand the issues of concern."

Several speakers told the board they were unhappy with restrictions on the dimensions of their buildings.

Jim Carter, owner of South Coast Winery & Resort on Rancho California Road, said a zoning limit under the wine country plan would prevent him from adding a third floor to his main building.

Stone added an exemption to the plan that would permit property owners in zones reserved for commercial development to have higher edifices -- as long as they have a "terrace design" that fits with the landscape.

"I don't want anything like a Holiday Inn Express in wine country," Stone said. "There shouldn't be grandiose buildings. People should be focused on the beautiful vines."

During its Sept. 24 meeting, the board suspended action on the wine country makeover after hearing from residents concerned about everything from the definition of a vineyard to the amplification systems that might be allowed on wine club properties.

The supervisors sent the plan back to the Riverside County Planning Commission for further vetting and refinement, after which the county's Park District Advisory Committee weighed in, culminating in a few modest revisions.

According to the county Transportation and Land Management Agency, among the more substantive changes was a request by nine property owners to remove 13 parcels totaling 192 acres from the project area, while a dozen property owners in possession of 262 acres asked to be included.

Under the wine country plan, conceived in 2008, an unincorporated area with boundaries three miles north of the San Diego County line, just east of Temecula, south of Lake Skinner and northwest of Vail Lake, will be broken into four districts: equestrian, existing, residential and winery.

The area is home to 42 vintners. County officials foresee as many as 170 being established in the coming decades.

Kimberly Adams with the Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors' Bureau described the wine country as the "largest grape-growing Appalachia in Southern California."

"Last year, we generated $600 Advertisement
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million in economic activity," Adams said. "We support over 5,000 jobs. It's a thriving industry."

Supervisor John Tavaglione said implementing the wine country plan was "critical to the success" of the county overall.

Preparing the area for expansion will require new infrastructure, more government services and accommodations for existing residents and businesses -- all of which pose challenges, though most of them can be mitigated, according to a 700-page environmental impact report prepared for the board.

The EIR noted multiple "significant" consequences arising from the wine country plan, including a reduction of farmland, increased noise, lower air quality from grading, excavation and other construction activity, as well as higher traffic volume and more roadway congestion.

Additional EIRs will have to be drafted as commercial and residential projects permitted within the wine country are brought before the board.

According to Stone, modifications can be made to the plan in eight-year cycles, beginning in 2016.


TEMECULA - Following 3 1/2 hours of public testimony, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors has taken a "historic" vote approving the Temecula Valley Wine Country Plan, establishing zoning standards that officials say will define the shape and character of a roughly 19,000-acre area for decades to come.

Story to follow


Temecula Wine Country Makeover Subject of Second Hearing

RIVERSIDE - The future size and makeup of the Temecula Valley Wine Country will be debated by the Board of Supervisors today, as it considers controversial land use changes to a roughly 19,000-acre chunk of Riverside County.

The board will hold its second public hearing on the Temecula Valley Wine Country Plan beginning at 1:30 p.m. today. Nearly 50 people spoke during the previous hearing on Sept. 24, and Tuesday's hearing is also expected to be well-attended.

The board will consider whether to approve a general plan amendment that calls for new zoning designations, an extensive bicycle and horseback-riding trails network and lot sizes for future wineries.

On Sept. 24, some speakers voiced concerns about issues ranging from the definition of a vineyard to the amplification systems that might be allowed on wine club properties. Others critical of the proposal expressed concerns about noise, excess commercial growth and the consequent loss of a rural flavor to the community.

But others lauded the prospect of more tourism and other business gravitating to the area as the build-out occurs over the next several decades.

The board agreed with Supervisor Jeff Stone, whose district encompasses Temecula, and suspended action on the wine country makeover.

The supervisors sent the plan back to the Riverside County Planning Commission for further vetting and refinement. The county's Park District Advisory Committee also weighed in, culminating in a few modest revisions that the board will consider following public testimony Tuesday.

According to the county Transportation and Land Management Agency, among the more substantive changes was a request by nine property owners to remove 13 parcels totaling 192 acres from the project area. A dozen property owners in possession of 262 acres asked to be included.

Under the wine country plan, conceived in 2008, an unincorporated area with boundaries three miles north of the San Diego County line, just east of Temecula, south of Lake Skinner and northwest of Vail Lake would be broken into four districts: equestrian, existing, residential and winery.

The area is currently home to 42 vintners. County officials foresee as many as 170 being established in the coming decades.

"The purpose of the project is to provide a blueprint for growth to ensure that future development activities will enhance, not impede, the quality of life for existing and future residents, while providing opportunities for continued development and expansion of winery and equestrian operations within this part of the county," according to a TLMA statement.

Preparing the area for expansion will require new infrastructure, more government services and accommodations for existing residents and businesses -- all of which pose challenges, though most of them can be mitigated, according to a 700-page environmental impact report prepared for the board.

The EIR before the board notes multiple "significant" consequences arising from the wine country plan, including a reduction of farmland, increased noise, lower air quality from grading, excavation and other construction activity, as well as higher traffic volume and more roadway congestion.


 

4 comments

Comment Profile ImageVista de Los Cabalas resident
Comment #1 | Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 8:45 pm
I would like to just note that having the trails NOT passed as part of the plan is a HUGE win for the residents here in our neighborhood of Vista de los Cabalas. These trails were not ridden, nor we're they truly vetted before the map was brought to the County Supervisors. On top of that, there was not one person on any of the sub committees that represented the homeowners in the areas that would have been affected. So no voice of the neighbors was ever heard before hand. I have spoken to numerous people in my neighborhood and we all love the horses and the quiet area in which we live, none of us minds the neighbors riding in the area, what we had issue with were the trails being commercial. As soon as the proposed map was publicized, some months back, it became very clear that the trails becoming commercial was going to jeopardize our quiet way of life. The business directly below us started using those trails for there commercial rides and suddenly we had multiple rides per day and up to 15 horses riding on private property. We are thankful that our residential area will stay residential.
Comment Profile ImageRich Bowman Jr.
Comment #2 | Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 9:49 pm
A BIG Thanks to Mr. Stone, and the Board, for listening to our concerns today!
Comment Profile Imageinvinoveritas
Comment #3 | Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 4:20 pm
Too bad he didn't listen to the concerns of the REAL wineries; the ones who are in the business of making wine. Keep your Disneyland Mr. Stone. Oh, and you too, Bill Wilson!
Comment Profile ImageThe Dude
Comment #4 | Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 9:16 am
"...the area is home to 42 vinters, County officials foresee as many as 170 being established in the coming decades."

Yes let's give ourselves a water crisis like Paso Robles. Wine is more valuable than water?

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Fallbrook Village News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.

 

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