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Temecula Wine Country Makeover Subject of Second Hearing

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors will hold its second public hearing on the Temecula Valley Wine Country Plan beginning at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

New zoning designations, an extensive bicycle and horseback-riding trails network and lot sizes for future wineries are proposed under a general amendment for Temecula Valley Wine Country. (Photo by Maggie Avants)
New zoning designations, an extensive bicycle and horseback-riding trails network and lot sizes for future wineries are proposed under a general amendment for Temecula Valley Wine Country. (Photo by Maggie Avants)

The future size and makeup of the Temecula Valley Wine Country will be debated by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, as it considers controversial land use changes to a roughly 19,000-acre chunk of Riverside County.

The board will hold its second public hearing on the Temecula Valley Wine Country Plan beginning at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Nearly 50 people spoke during the previous hearing on Sept. 24, and Tuesday's hearing is also expected to be well-attended.

The board will consider whether to approve a general plan amendment that calls for new zoning designations, an extensive bicycle and horseback-riding trails network and lot sizes for future wineries.

On Sept. 24, some speakers voiced concerns about issues ranging from the definition of a vineyard to the amplification systems that might be allowed on wine club properties. Others critical of the proposal expressed concerns about noise, excess commercial growth and the consequent loss of a rural flavor to the community.

But others lauded the prospect of more tourism and other business gravitating to the area as the build-out occurs over the next several decades.

The board agreed with Supervisor Jeff Stone, whose district encompasses Temecula, and suspended action on the wine country makeover.

The supervisors sent the plan back to the Riverside County Planning Commission for further vetting and refinement. The county's Park District Advisory Committee also weighed in, culminating in a few modest revisions that the board will consider following public testimony Tuesday.

According to the county Transportation and Land Management Agency, among the more substantive changes was a request by nine property owners to remove 13 parcels totaling 192 acres from the project area. A dozen property owners in possession of 262 acres asked to be included.

Under the wine country plan, conceived in 2008, an unincorporated area with boundaries three miles north of the San Diego County line, just east of Temecula, south of Lake Skinner and northwest of Vail Lake would be broken into four districts: equestrian, existing, residential and winery.

The area is currently home to 42 vintners. County officials foresee as many as 170 being established in the coming decades.

"The purpose of the project is to provide a blueprint for growth to ensure that future development activities will enhance, not impede, the quality of life for existing and future residents, while providing opportunities for continued development and expansion of winery and equestrian operations within this part of the county," according to a TLMA statement.

Preparing the area for expansion will require new infrastructure, more government services and accommodations for existing residents and businesses -- all of which pose challenges, though most of them can be mitigated, according to a 700-page environmental impact report prepared for the board.

The EIR before the board notes multiple "significant" consequences arising from the wine country plan, including a reduction of farmland, increased noise, lower air quality from grading, excavation and other construction activity, as well as higher traffic volume and more roadway congestion.

—City News Service

Artemis Gordon December 03, 2013 at 10:35 AM
As it is now, most every night we're bombarded with loud music and heavy wino traffic in the day. The all encompassing greed will destroy the rural flavor and ambiance of our area. Folks like me will move away and leave this Disney like nightmare behind us.

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