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Planning Commission to grapple with tasting rooms again

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Tasting room regulations return to the Sonoma Planning Commission Thursday.

The commission, which meets at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room at 177 First St. W., has grappled with the topic for several meetings, without coming to firm conclusions. Under discussion will be amendments to the Development Code establishing definitions and zoning regulations for wine tasting facilities.

The City Council considered recommendations last spring and directed the commission to draft amendments that differentiate between tasting rooms and wine bars, and that create a two-tiered system allowing tasting rooms with limited hours to be permitted by right, while other types would need a permit. The council also asked that operating standards finally be established for both.

In July, the commission drafted amendments but, after considerable public discussion, suggested planning staff meet with interested wine purveyors to discuss objections and concerns.

On the basis of that meeting, staff revised the draft amendments and presented them for Planning Commission review last month. But there were still differing opinions among commissioners. Rather than spend time to see where there might be consensus, the commission asked for more information on ABC licenses and how many licenses are held in the city.

Also on Thursday’s the agenda will be some fence-height and setback exceptions, a use permit to construct three multi-family residential units at 830 Broadway, and a request for another mobile coffee cart, this one at 195 W. Napa St. There will also be a discussion on appeals of Planning Commission decisions.