Public meeting on tasting room issue

Posted on February 17, 2014 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Are wine tasting rooms overrunning Sonoma Plaza, or is it good business to fill up empty storefronts with tourist-driven businesses? The City of Sonoma City Council and Planning Commission will examine the issue, and hear public comments, during a joint study session on Monday February 24, 6 p.m. at the Sonoma Community Center.

Last month, the commission approved recommendations that would have little impact on the current 29 facilities on and around the Plaza.

Under the plan, there will be no cap on the number of tasting rooms allowed within city limits, and, consistent with current policy, no special permitting – other than an ABC license – would be required.

Any proposed new wine bar/tap room would need to obtain a conditional use permit, as would a tasting room larger than 1,000 square feet. Additionally, if the tasting room occupies part of a larger building, it can take up no more than one-third of the overall space.

Current tasting rooms would be exempt from any size restrictions, though future expansion would trigger the need for a use permit. The commission also voted to
set hours of operation based on season, allowing a 9 p.m. closing time during from April through October.

Among other details, any food service, outside of private events, is limited, and tasting rooms would not be allowed to rent to a third party.

Ultimately, the council will vote to adopt or amend the commission’s decision. The upcoming public meeting will allow its members to discuss their recommendations, and for the council to hear public comments.

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