Opponents of the Davies Family Winery in south St. Helena are appealing a September ruling by a Napa Superior Court judge who rejected their legal challenge to the project.
Citizens’ Voice St. Helena filed a notice of appeal on Monday announcing its intention to appeal to the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.
“We all agreed, in order to make a real change, you must be willing to stand up for what you believe is right,” the group said in a statement.
The project is near the corner of Main Street and Grayson Avenue, at the old Epps Chevrolet site.
Last December, the City Council allowed the three-year-old winery to expand production from 20,000 to 75,000 gallons a year.
Opponents primarily objected to plans to hold events and offer tours and tastings in a new building fronting Grayson Avenue.
“The city has always believed in the merits of this project, including its contribution to the city’s efforts towards improving the appearance of the south entrance and preserving the character and quality of St. Helena,” City Manager Jennifer Phillips said in a statement. “We are disappointed that the plaintiffs have chosen to continue their litigation, and expect the Court of Appeal will affirm the Napa County Superior Court’s well-reasoned decision rejecting their claims.”
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Citizens’ Voice sued the city of St. Helena and the project last December, claiming that the project violated the city’s zoning ordinances prohibiting buildings of more than 10,000 square feet, violated a General Plan requirement that businesses in the Service Commercial should be primarily local-serving, and warranted a full environmental impact report rather than the less intensive mitigated negative declaration required by the City Council.
Opponents also criticized the presence of a winery and wine tasting facilities across from St. Helena High School, saying they pose a hazard to student pedestrians and drivers.
Napa County Superior Court Judge Rodney Stone rejected Citizens’ Voice’s lawsuit, ruling that critics had failed to express their objections adequately during the public hearing.
Stone also ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to meet the legal standard of proving that the City Council had acted “arbitrarily, capriciously or without evidentiary basis” when it approved the project.
Susan Kenward, a representative of Citizens’ Voice, said opponents have raised $150,000 from more than 350 citizens to use for legal expenses.
“It’s not just two or three people who are against this,” Kenward said.
The winery applicants are paying for the city’s legal defense.