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To set a precedent is to “Establish a usage, tradition or standard to be followed in the future.”

We urge the St. Helena City Council to reject the Davies Winery proposal. The plans increase production to 75,000 gallons, expand the facility to 26,000 square feet, construct a 4,300-square-foot building, add tastings of 160 people per day, hold 36 events for 200 people totaling 60,000 people. The winery exceeds the city’s building limit by 10,000 square feet. Where do 100 parking spaces fit on this lot?

This sets a dangerous precedent.

It is a blatant disregard for the St. Helena General Plan:

Page 2-6 2.2 “… The community … remains a viable, living/working community, and not a tourist-dependent winery-related theme park/ destination";

2.6.26 27 “Prohibit commercial uses that are primarily tourist-serving in nature ….”;

2.6.38 “Encourage primarily local serving businesses in the CN AND SC designated areas.”

The visitors throughout the year make this an entertaining facility within a winery; the excessive number of hospitality events is a marketing plan for tourism. The 50,000 to 60,000 visitors and cars at an intersection known for problems transform this corner into a nightmare.

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The traffic report does not take into account proximity to the high school and elementary school, impact on traffic, parking and students. With 60,000 visitors this could be 30,000 additional cars.

The wine tasting on site makes it extremely dangerous with sports, buses, picking up kids, new drivers and students walking into town. Add visitors, who have consumed alcohol, employees, caterers, grape suppliers and assorted deliveries, the traffic along this challenged and chaotic traffic area will be a nightmare. And the high school will be building the new auditorium.

The insufficient parking for special events (they will have only 100 parking spaces for up to 160 visitors a day, plus employees, and all the other vehicles associated with daily winery production) will require either valet parking or shuttle buses to and from off-site locations. This generates more traffic and we question legality and long-term sustainability relying on off-site parking owned by others.

The proposed city water use is grossly insufficient. With the agreed upon usage for employees and visitors, that is 2 gallons per person for toilets, washing-up for events, entertaining, etc. What happened to the agreement to use only city water and truck-in additional usage?

This winery does not fit a definition for wineries within the city limits. (The two codes are 17.24.060 for (w) wineries and 17.180.080 for small wineries.)

We applaud their use of this building for the 20,000-gallon production facility and understand if they need more production space. However, we deserve a thoughtful and collaborative proposal; a plan in keeping with our general plan, the character and public use of the area -- not a high traffic, commercial and tourism–generating development on this congested intersection.

We request the City Council to use their judgment and discretion to deny the permit.

Susan Kenward, Gary and Julie Wagner, Stacey Bressler, Clare and Doug Barr, Dick and Sue Wollack, Joan Westgate, Carol Williams, Valli Farrell, Hannah and Ron Nunn

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