Dry Creek Valley Store

Regular Minutes for February 20, 2020

  1. Call to Order
    In the absence of Chairperson Jenny Gomez, Vice Chairperson Bill Smith called to order the regular meeting of the Dry Creek Valley Citizens Advisory Council at 6:02 pm.
  2. Introduction of Councilmembers and Roll Call
    Present Councilmembers: Bill Smith, Bengt Akerlind, Steve Rued, and Bob Mullen. Jenny Gomez was absent
  3. Election of Chair and Vice Chair
    In the absence of Chair Jenny Gomez, the Council agreed to postpone this item to the next meeting.
  4. Approval of Minutes
    On a motion by Councilmember Steve Rued, and a second by Councilmember Bengt Akerlind, the January 16, 2020, Dry Creek Valley Citizens Advisory Council meeting Minutes were approved with corrections. The motion carried on a voice vote, (4‐0).
  5. Public Comments on Non‐Agenda Items ‐ None
  6. Correspondence ‐ None
  7. Councilmember Announcements and Disclosures:
    Councilmember Bengt Akerlind shared that he had visited the Sommers’ property two weeks ago.

    Referrals from PRMD ‐ Referrals from Sonoma County PRMD
    NOTE: CONTINUATION OF THE HEARING OF THIS REFERRAL FROM 9‐19‐19
    File Number: UPE18‐0032
    Applicant Name: David Eckert/ZO Wines
    Owner Name: David Eckert/ZO Wines
    Site Address: 3232 and 3280 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg
    APN: 090‐150‐056 & 090‐150‐060
    Project Description: Request for a Use Permit to modify and existing winery use permit, File NO. UPE98‐ 0087, by increasing annual production capacity from 600 cases to 5,000 cases, expanding the wine processing facility building, increasing the number of employees from one to 8 full‐time employees and 2 seasonal employees, constructing a tasting room and allowing public wine tasting with food and wine pairings, and retail pre‐packaged food sales seven days a week, during the hours of 10AM to 6PM, and hosting 34 agricultural promotional events per year with outdoor amplified music and sound. Agricultural promotional events will end by 10:00 PM and include: 8 events for direct sales activities involving 100 people per event; 4 event days for industry‐wide events involving 200 people per event; and

    2 agricultural promotional cultural events per year involving 100 people per event. Parking for event attendees will be located on the project site – APN 090‐150‐056 while parking for event employees will be located on adjacent parcel – APN 090‐150‐060, a property owned by ZO Wines LLC.

    ZO Wines LLC is also in the process of completing Lot Line Adjustment File NO. LLA18‐0047 for the purpose of expanding the project site to include the adjacent 13‐acre vineyard and area for the proposed winery/tasting room septic system. Recordation of LLA18‐0047 will result in expanding the project site from 1.35 acres to 15.26 acres in size.

    Cort Munselle, the representative for ZO Wines, asked if they could request to postpone until the next meeting, as they would like to have the full Council present.

    Vice Chairperson Bill Smith introduced the next referral on our Agenda, which had been continued from the January 16, 2020 meeting:
    NOTE: CONTINUATION OF THE HEARING OF THIS REFERRAL FROM 2‐21‐19
    File Number: UPD18‐0053
    Applicant Name: Steven Sommer
    Owner Name: Steven and Candace Sommer
    Site Address: 6029 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg
    APN: 090‐240‐022
    Project Description: Request for a Use Permit a medium outdoor cannabis cultivation operation (10,001‐43,560 square feet) to occur on a 59.55‐acre parcel zoned LIA B6 20Z RC50/50 SR. There are 3 existing single‐family homes on the parcel and 16‐acres of vineyards.

    Jake McKee, consultant for the Sommer’s, shared that Councilmember Bengt Akerlind came out to the site. He also shared that Code Enforcement was called to consult on site preparation and the cutting down of of trees between them and their neighbors. Jake brought correspondence with neighbors.

    Acting Chair Bill Smith explained that the primary concerns on this referral have been with security and odor. He also mentioned the increased 700 ft. setbacks from adjoining property. No processing or storage will be on‐site. He explained that the Council had previously heard a presentation by Tim Rickard from the County of Sonoma, who shared that there had been no criminal activity on legal grows.
  8. Public Comments
    Kim Wallace
    —3410 Dry Creek Road, asked about the location and size of the grow.

    It was explained that the grow will be at 6029 Dry Creek Road and the maximum grow size is 1‐acre.

    Marian Van Alyea—3955 Lambert Bridge Road, asked about legal grows in Dry Creek Valley. Bill shared about Sweetwater Springs and 3 others out in Mill Creek/Palmer Creek area that have come before our Council. Jake confirmed that the Sweetwater Springs locations was the only one that has been approved (at the County level). She asked about processing. Jake explained that it will go to a commercial processing facility—Sommers will only be growing. She asked why the grow was not enclosed. She expressed concerns about odor. Jake responded that when the ordinance and policy were rolled out, grows requiring a building were originally treated as a commercial project. The structure would fall under Commercial Building requirements. In the future, there may be changes to allow Ag buildings.

    Judith Olney—3300 Westside Road, brought up a Colorado requirement that all grows be indoors. She suggested this be required to Mike McGuire. She also mentioned that Sonoma is one of the few counties allowing outdoor grows.

    Kim Wallace asked about previous studies on neighbors. Bills explained that our group does not do this. Any requirements and studies are set forth by the County. She asked how the neighbors feel.

    Terry Manning—6149 Dry Creek Road, shared that they do not feel good about this. She expressed her concerns for businesses and residences. She asked the Council to be mindful of approving these things. She suggested that there were not a lot of crimes on legal cannabis grows because there are not a lot of legal grows. She speculated that there will be crime and it will make neighbors susceptible. She shared she had visited the site today. She wanted to check setbacks, because the new proposed site is closer to her house and farther away from her brother’s. They own an acre in the middle. She is still concerned with odor. She also shared that neighbor Bob Lyles, who was not able to attend, asked her to share that his concerns remain the same as at the previous meeting.

    Mark Freed—4391 Dry Creek Road, shared that he owns Talon Creek on Dry Creek Road. He also shared that he would like to grow cannabis. There are a lot of benefits that are backed by the medical community. One acre seems small to him. He does not see odor as a big problem, but would do anything he can to mitigate it. He discounted the crime worries citing the required security fencing. Jake shared that you must not be able to see through fencing to meet requirements.

    Terry Manning has family recovering from drug addiction. She thinks the smell will be a big problem. There is not enough lavender and rosemary, etc., in the world to mask the smell. There is nothing that can be done to stop it.

    Mark Freed asked about the process of outreach to neighbors to discuss pros and cons. Bill explained that we encourage outreach be applicants to discuss with neighbors as part of the process.

    Kim Wallace shared that she didn’t think residents had heard about this. She asked about the impact on the reputation of Dry Creek Valley. We are trying to promote Dry Creek as a Premier Wine Growing Region.

    Marian Van Alyea agreed that more conversation needs to happen. She also wondered what the valley would look like (in the future). She mentioned that grapes right now are not selling, so this could be a great way to increase income. For those who live in the valley, what will the new valley look like? She does not like the vision of fencing, security, lights, odor. The other thing that bothers her… she feels that looking at all the ways grapes are grown, cannabis growers want it to look like grape growing.

    Mark Freed volunteered to organize another meeting for discussion of impacts, etc.

    Judith Olney mentioned that she has a cousin in Chico whose property is surrounded by cannabis grows. They make the neighborhood feel unsafe with the fencing an pit bulls, etc.

  9. Council Discussion Councilmember
    Bengt Akerlind
    —explained that our Council role is to make a recommendation to the County. If a project, like this, falls within the current legal guidelines, we should approve it. He asked if a region within the County could set up its own rules and regulations.

    Terry Manning mentioned the 20‐acre minimum for housing. The valley does have some unique regulations. Windsor does not allow cannabis within their city limits.

    Bengt Akerlind wondered about zoning issues. He believes concerned neighbors need to target the County not our Council.

    Councilmember Bob Mullen believes the biggest issue is the smell. Hemp will soon be allowed, and there will be no regulation. The smell is the same. He has not personally smelled it in the valley. One acre on a 60‐acre site will, most likely, not create a smell issue. He also does not see criminal element being attracted to legal grows.

    Councilmember Steve Rued
    shared that hemp cannot be grown within 3 miles of cannabis because of cross pollination issues. Jake added that Hemp must be grown in 40‐acre minimums. Jake also discussed money—taxation, etc., bring the profits down to something similar to an agricultural commodity. Right now there is a better margin that grapes. He believes there were originally 370 applications, which included grows, processing, etc. Half of those tapped out financially. Thorough the Department of Agriculture the County has approved four ¼‐acre grows of hemp. He believes there are still dozens in the pipeline. There are 10 to 12 legal grows in the entire county right now.

    Bill Smith mentioned that the County is in the process of turning all grows over to the Ag Department. Jake clarified that the BOS voted and is now moving them to the Department of Agriculture. The proposed ordinance changes will move some to a ministerial permit, rather than the current Use Permit process. So far nothing has changed in the physical process. Projects with buildings would still require a permit process. He expressed sympathy for the concerns of neighbors, but shared that our role is to make sure it complies with regulations of the County. He addressed odor by sharing that he has neighbors that have grown and that the odor is only present a few months around harvest. He has not noticed it to be a problem. He mentioned that when he moved to Healdsburg it was considered “The Buckle of the Prune Belt”. Changes do happen. He agreed that an education session would be good. He would personally like to hear an update from the County, especially regarding outdoor grows.

    Acting Chair Bill Smith asked for other comments from our Council. There were none.

    On a motion by Bengt Akerlind, seconded by Steve Rued, it was agreed to approve this referral. The motion passed on a roll call vote (4‐0).

  10. Discussion Items
    Secretary Sharon Pillsbury
    updated the Council on Brown Act Training. The Council was sent a Power Point presentation to watch at their leisure. They are to inform Sharon when they have completed watching this presentation. There will also be an in‐person training at the County offices later in the year, and Jennifer Mendoza will keep us informed when a date and location have been set.

    Bob Mullen asked about including handouts—like the ZO summary as part of the Minutes. Sharon will check with Jen Mendoza.

  11. Agenda Items for future meetings
    Election of Council Chair and Vice Chair Continuation of ZO Wines referral Discussion of our Process Update on having someone address the Council on the Dry Creek Draft Traffic Study
  12. Adjournment
    There being no other Council business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 7:18 pm; on a motion by Councilmember Steve Rued, seconded by Councilmember Bob Mullen. The motion carried on a voice vote, (4‐0).

Contact Information

Jen Mendoza

4th District Director

Board of Supervisors
County of Sonoma
Contact us by Phone

County of Sonoma Boards, Commissions and Committees