Opponents and supporters of a small Acampo winery hoping to expand in order to hold more marketing events will speak in front of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors during a meeting in Stockton this afternoon.
St. Jorge Winery, at 22769 N. Bender Road in Acampo, is seeking permits that would legalize entertainment structures that it already built without proper approval. While the county’s Planning Commission approved the application in September 2012, neighbors have appealed the decision, and the supervisors could make a final ruling during the hearing.
St. Jorge Winery owners Vern and Jenise Vierra made several improvements to their property with the goal of hosting larger and more frequent entertainment events.
Construction included a 5,652-square-foot wine garden, comprised of a stage, dining and seating area; a 300-square-foot commercial kitchen; a 1,600-square-foot storage building; a wine storage building; a covered patio; and a restroom facility.
In addition, the owners asked that the number of marketing events increase from four to 24 per year, and that attendance be increased from 25 people to 150 people per marketing event.
The Vierras and their neighbors have been feuding for more than a year over the expansion. The Planning Commission received numerous letters before their ruling from neighbors opposed to additional marketing events.
Roughly a half-dozen neighbors said that the noise from the events and droves of guests disrupted their remote country lifestyle. But the Planning Commission granted operating permits to St. Jorge Winery with a 3-2 vote.
Neighbors Judy and Romano Isola appealed the decision in November 2012, citing several reasons.
They contended that the winery intends to hold summer concerts and other events that are “incompatible” with “production of wine,” the appeal states.
The appeal adds that the winery has been utilizing its entertainment structures despite not yet having the proper permits.
The Community Development Department opened an enforcement case in April 2012, before the Planning Commission decision, and found that St. Jorge Winery has committed several violations, including utilizing the structures for marketing events and holding events with more than 25 guests in attendance.
The county’s Community Development Department is recommending that the supervisors uphold the Planning Commission’s decision.
However, if the supervisors don’t deny the Isolas’ appeal, they could ask St. Jorge Winery to comply with a range of requests, including tearing down the recently built structures, according to Community Development Director Kerry Sullivan.
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