Many people ask, isn't this already a done deal?
The answer is NO. Absolutely not. There is a process for project approval with the County and the Gallo Liberty Winery has NOT been approved nor denied at this time.
So, how does the Land Use Permit process work?
1) Initial check for basic use allowance within current zoning.
Wineries are currently allowed to apply for a Use Permit within AG-40 zones, as are landfills, explosives handling facilities, dairies, etc. Just because a zone allows for a Use Permit application does NOT mean that it is automatically a compatible use and the permit can be denied. For example, explosives handling, power-generating facilities, and resource recovery facilities are all allowable in AG-40, but must be compatible with adjacent use for the Use Permit to be granted. So, an explosives handling company could apply for a Use Permit to operate, but then comes the next question; Is it a compatible use with surrounding dwellings, schools, etc.?
2) Compatibility with existing use in the community.
The Gallo Winery project is the first time that the County has asked for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a Winery. Why? Because the proposed project is huge and there are proposed environmental impacts such as traffic, noise, loss of prime farmland, water resources, etc. that are too large to be simply mitigated without in depth quantification of the proposed impacts.
That is also why an EIR requires Alternatives Analysis: a look at how to lessen those impacts with project modification/size limitations and/or a move to other suitable locations.
Here's where the County can determine that traffic impacts would be too large and the project needs to be moved to lands nearer to major transportation routes.
3) Planning Commission
Once the environmental and design review process is complete, the modified project will then go to the Planning Commission for Use Permit approval wor denial.
Anyone is able to challenge that decision, which would send it on to the County Board of Supervisors to decide.
4) County Board of Supervisors
If the Planning Commission decision is appealed, the County Board of Supervisors will hear comment and make a decision to deny or approve the Use Permit based on findings and public comment. There is not currently an appeals process beyond the Board of Supervisors within the County.
So, is this project a done deal?
Absolutely NOT! Our County employees are doing their job in upholding the process and our elected Supervisors care about our community! They all want to do what's best to support the residents of our County. They are wise and they can be trusted to hear our voices! Sign that petition and send those letters/e-mails!