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Sonoma Planning Commission eyes tasting rooms, coffee store

Earlier this month, the Sonoma Planning Commission approved tasting room regulations. The City Council will consider tasting room rules next. Index-Tribune file photo

Earlier this month, the Sonoma Planning Commission approved tasting room regulations. The City Council will consider tasting room rules next. Index-Tribune file photo

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Tasting room regulations and an application for a new formula store are the only two items on the Sonoma Planning Commission’s Thursday agenda.

First up will be amendments to the Development Code establishing definitions and zoning regulations for wine tasting facilities. This item was postponed from the last meeting, and is ready for review.

The City Council considered recommendations last spring and directed the commission to draft amendments that differentiate between tasting rooms and wine bars; create a two-tiered system that 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 body suggested staff meet with interested parties to discuss objections and concerns. After that meeting, the draft amendments were revised.

Wine industry representatives, initially consulted, did not think the industry needs regulation beyond that provided by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control. But they did admit there are various types of licenses, and agreed some additional regulation might be in order.

In summary, 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 like 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.

Also on the agenda is a request to permit a Dutch Bros Coffee store, part of a 200-outlet franchise, at an existing drive-thru coffee location at the corner of Broadway and Andrieux, south of Hopmonk. It would replace Hot Shots, a similar business. Because it is a formula business, a permit is required.

The commission meets at 6:30 Thursday, at 177 First St. W., in the Community Meeting Room. The meeting is open to the public.