Domaine Chandon

WEDNESDAY - OCTOBER 09, 2013 - YOUNTVILLE, CA - The city of Yountville is looking to annex Domaine Chandon. J.L. Sousa/Register

J.L. Sousa/Register

Yountville has begun its move to annex the winery that has been associated with the town for 40 years, but has been just outside its borders.

Tuesday night, the Town Council approved a request to a Napa County commission to move the Domaine Chandon visitor center into Yountville’s sphere of influence, the prelude to its absorption by the town, according to Town Clerk Michelle Dahme. The vote was 4-1, with Councilmember Lewis Chilton dissenting.

Within about 90 days, the town plans to apply to the county Local Area Formation Commission to expand Yountville’s sphere of influence to take in Domaine Chandon, which has operated since 1973, Councilmember Margie Mohler said Wednesday.

Yountville seeks to annex only the developed sections of the Chandon site, which include its visitor center, tasting room, offices and the Étoile restaurant. Its vineyards would remain under county jurisdiction and subject to Measure P, which requires a popular vote for any land-use changes.

State law requires that additions to a town or city’s area be consistent with its sphere of influence, defined as the “probable physical boundary and service area of a local agency.”

To annex Chandon property, Yountville must apply to LAFCO, then negotiate a tax revenue-sharing pact with the county. After an evaluation and public hearing, the commission may green-light the acquisition, block it or require changes.

Before the meeting, Town Manager Steve Rogers said Yountville’s bid to absorb Chandon largely stems from an order by the state Regional Water Quality Control Board to increase water recycling.

The order, which required upgraded electrical, pump and pipe systems, is expected to cost ratepayers $3.5 million and take two years to fulfill. Adding Chandon to Yountville territory will allow the town to collect taxes as well as fees from the winery and help cover the upgrade’s costs more quickly, Rogers said last week.

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Though located outside town limits, Domaine Chandon has been deeply intertwined with Yountville daily life since its 1973 opening, town planners argued in reports to the council. The only vehicle access to the winery is within the town, and Chandon is the Yountville Trolley’s only stop outside the town boundary.

Additionally, the town has handled all wastewater processing for the winery’s visitor building since it was connected to the municipal treatment system in 1991. (Wastewater from agricultural activities is treated onsite and not released into the municipal system.)

The winemaking center would be the first addition to Yountville’s territory since its incorporation in 1965.

The headline of this story has been updated.

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