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Planners to tackle tasting rooms, Mission Square project

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Two controversial items – regulating tasting rooms and considering final approval for Mission Square – promise to fill the room Thursday when the Sonoma Planning Commission takes up both at its 6:30 p.m. meeting in the Community Meeting Room at 177 First St. W.

First up will be consideration of amendments to the Development Code establishing definitions and zoning regulations for wine tasting facilities. The City Council reviewed recommendations last spring and directed the commission to draft amendments which: differentiate between tasting rooms and wine bars; create a two-tiered system which allows tasting rooms with limited hours to be permitted by right, while other types would need a permit; and finally, to establish operating standards for both.

In July, the commission drafted amendments, but after considerable public discussion, the commission suggested staff meet with interested parties to discuss objections and concerns. After the meeting, the draft amendments were revised. To summarize, most tasting rooms tied to a specific winery, will be allowed to operate in commercial zones without a special permit, except when extended hours are proposed. Those that are more wine bars with extended hours and a “different kind of experience” would be subject to use permit review. Parking standards for both would also be determined.

Next up will be consideration and possible action on an application for a mixed-use project called Mission Square consisting of 3,500 square feet of office space and 14 apartments with parking and associated improvements.

The project is located at 165 E. Spain St.

The project has been reviewed and revised since first submitted in 2005 for 23 apartments and 5,700 square feet of commercial. After many hearings, the project changed and in July, the Environmental Impact Report was approved. At that time, approval of the project was postponed until a complete design review submittal was presented to the Planning Commission. This type of submittal is usually prepared for the Design Review Commission.

In addition, the applicants, David and Marcus Detert, have agreed to further reductions in the project including fewer units, preservation of more trees, and the addition of a covered walkway and a small accessory building. The project contains 36 parking spaces, including 19 covered spaces, on the southern edge of the site.

If time permits, the commission will also hold a separate public hearing clarifying provisions in the Municipal Code pertaining to density bonuses and inclusionary housing, new use permits for emergency shelters, and other topics.