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San Joaquin County supervisors delay Viaggo Winery deli decision

Viaggio owners request postponement to better describe their farm deli

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Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 6:05 am, Wed Jan 9, 2013.

After a two-hour public hearing on Tuesday afternoon, a decision on whether an Acampo winery should be allowed to operate a deli and large agricultural store was postponed for a month.

Teri and Larry Lawrence, new owners of Viaggo Winery, requested a postponement until Feb. 12 so that they can provide greater detail of just what a delicatessen is, especially on a farm.

The San Joaquin County Planning Commission unanimously approved the deli on Oct. 18, 2012, but the county Farm Bureau appealed the commission's approval to the Board of Supervisors.

The Farm Bureau alleges that by housing a deli, Viaggio will set an undesirable precedent by allowing restaurant usage on the more than 6,600 parcels within the state Williamson Act.

The project calls for Viaggio, located on more than 21 acres on the southwest corner of Taddei and Bender roads in Acampo, to convert 2,339 square feet of an existing 7,113-square-foot building into a large agricultural store that would include a deli with indoor seating. The property is southwest of Peltier and Lower Sacramento roads.

Supervisor Steve Bestolarides was set to vote in favor of the Farm Bureau, but none of his board colleagues seconded his motion.

Supervisors then agreed to postpone a decision for a month after expressing confusion over whether a deli constitutes a restaurant.

Supervisor Larry Ruhstaller said he would like the Lawrences to work out an agreement with the Farm Bureau so that the Board of Supervisors doesn't have to make a decision.

"I like the opportunity to make both sides happy," Ruhstaller said.

Bruce Blodgett, the Farm Bureau's executive director, told the board he has no problem with the Lawrences. If the Board of Supervisors were to allow the couple to be open 365 days a year, as the Lawrences requested, subsequent owners would have the same right, Blodgett and Bestolarides said.

Teri Lawrence said that she and her husband don't plan to operate 365 days a year, even though they're making that request to the county. They plan to be open only on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and from 1 to 5 p.m. on weekends.

The Lawrences requested extra hours so that they can be flexible and see what hours work best for them, Teri Lawrence said.

Blodgett said that no other agricultural parcel in San Joaquin County with a restaurant is governed by the Williamson Act, which protects farm land from being sold to developers.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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  • Ted Lauchland posted at 7:16 pm on Thu, Jan 10, 2013.

    Ted Lauchland Posts: 229

    Input from several different established entities such as the Farm Bureau and others to give different perspectives of an application so as not to step on anyone toes and it includes legal toes before decisions are to be made are requested. This also includes individual input perspectives at the hearings. The delay is , I am sure, to allow more of this to surface before further action.
    My experience with planning commissions is that they will approve an application to move the project forward if there is no objections to consider. They are not experts in all fields by any means and value the additional information others can provide. The bottom line is that someone has to make a decision and that is the purpose of any board. The rest of us have to accept that decision right or wrong. Petitions that prove counter to a decision are valued to change that decision before, during or after it has been made.You have the opportunity to approve or deny any at any time.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 3:26 pm on Wed, Jan 9, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    Mr. Bitz, SJ county and all the little towns it has jurisdiction over, like the Lodi planning commission, are often just appointments made as favors to the appointed board as a reward, favor, friendship, etc. to those who aren't capable of really holding this position but to render favorable decisions on iffy and sometimes controversial projects to satisfy the needs of those appointing them to expedite or push through projects of financial interest to certain appointees and their developer/contributors.

  • roy bitz posted at 11:01 am on Wed, Jan 9, 2013.

    roy bitz Posts: 489

    Hard to believe anyone on the planning commission ever read the Williason act and voted to approve this request.



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