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Wine tasting ordinance should address concerns of privately maintained roads

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Placer County’s wine tasting ordinance controversy centers on the taking and using of privately maintained roads for public commercial use. Wineries claim that wine bars and sales of “ancillary” merchandise and food are simply extensions of their “right to farm,” and that recently passed AB 2004, allowing wineries to sell wine (by the glass and bottle), beer, and brandy, for on-site consumption does not apply. My neighbors and I disagree. Placer County’s original permitting process somewhat protected private road owners. However, from the county draft presentations (2007), to what was approved in May 2008 by the Planning Commission, changes were made at the request of winery interests. Now, private roads have little protection from public commercial traffic. That alone is unacceptable, but adding driving and drinking to private roads makes the revised ordinance intolerable. With the county’s reported $21 million shortfall and staff layoffs, can it afford a lawsuit and risk potential obligations to pay both its costs (defendant) and citizens’ costs (plaintiff) when a compromise can/should be worked out? Private road owners, as stakeholders, deserve an ordinance that addresses legitimate concerns (safety, health, etc.). Supervisors should vote to work toward such a compromise. Marilyn Jasper Loomis