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Panel OKs Oakstone Winery plan

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From page A1 | January 30, 2013 |

After a two-hour discussion, a revision to a Special Use Permit for Oakstone Winery was approved on a 3-1 vote by the El Dorado County Planning Commission.

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The Jan. 24 meeting drew a large crowd of supporters, as well as a few critics, regarding the application from John and Susan Smith, who own the winery.

Currently the facility is operating as a wine production facility Monday through Sunday and a wine tasting facility three days a week. The Smiths had requested the facility be open for public tasting and merchandising seven days a week.

Last July, the original Oakstone Winery was totally destroyed by fire. The Smiths decided not to rebuild and instead to move their business across the road to another facility they own called Obscurity Cellars, which was renamed Oakstone.

In August the Smiths received a six-month Temporary Use Permit to allow public wine tasting, on-site wine sales, retail wine sales, picnicking, and marketing activities. During that time they paved part of the dirt road leading up to the winery to make access easier for customers. That road is shared with Karl and Charlotte Lindborg, who live adjacent to Oakstone.

The Lindborgs objected to the expanded activities at the winery, saying they would add more traffic on a private road and contribute to noise and parking problems. Finding themselves reluctantly at odds with the Smiths, whom they called “awesome,” they worried that the new activities at the winery would diminish the value of their own property.

However, coming to the defense of the Smiths were a number of neighbors and customers who said the Smiths were highly respected members of the community and the proposed uses wouldn’t generate much additional traffic. Customers of Oakstone testified the changes would also help bring more money into the community.

In response to comments from the Lindborgs, John Smith asserted that the road shared with them is a public easement. He then offered to modify his request and limit the public activities at Oakstone to no more than four days a week. He agreed the number of cases of wine to be sold yearly would not exceed 2,000. He also he agreed to keep the existing signs at the facility and to maintain the road leading into Oakstone.

With these changes, the Planning Commission approved the revisions to the Oakstone Special Use Permit with Walter Mathews, Tom Heflin and Brian Shinault voting yes, Rich Stewart voting no, and Dave Pratt abstaining.

The Planning Commission also approved an existing special use permit for an AT&T cellular telecommunications facility in Camino for another five years and approved a special use permit for the sale and display of trucks and RVs at property currently being used to sell manufactured and park model homes. The business is located at the intersection of old Sunset Lane and Mother Lode Drive in Shingle Springs.

The Planning Commission went on to vote to retain its existing officers for the coming year. Dave Pratt will continue as chairman, Walter Mathews as first vice chairman, and Tom Heflin as second vice chairman.

Shingle Springs resident Lori Parlin gave a short presentation to the Planning Commission on behalf of the newly formed Shingle Springs Community Alliance. Parlin asked the Planning Commission for their support in protecting the rural character of their area as more developments are proposed for the community.

Parlin noted that members of her group held a town hall meeting on Jan. 15 to discuss these issues and over 200 people attended. Since then they have petitioned the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors to develop a Shingle Springs Community Plan that retains the existing land-use designations.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or dhodson@mtdemocrat.net. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.

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