Skip to comments.Environmental groups' lawsuit could upend Sonoma County vineyard policies
Posted on 06/13/2014 9:17:11 PM PDT by rey
Three environmental groups are challenging Sonoma County's approval of a 54-acre Annapolis vineyard in a case that reflects long-standing conflict over expansion of the county's $600 million a year grape industry.
If the lawsuit were to succeed, it would wipe out the county's vineyard development law, itself born amid controversy between growers and environmentalists 14 years ago.
That friction has intensified with the recent growth of forest-to-vineyard projects near the coast, a cool region hospitable to pinot noir grapes, the most expensive varietal grown in the county.
The law officially named the Vineyard Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance, known as VESCO contains a poison pill that automatically invalidates the entire law if the courts reject one critical provision, Deputy County Counsel Jeff Brax said.
The legality of that provision, which empowers the county to approve vineyard development plans without environmental study or public hearing, is exactly what the lawsuit challenges.
If VESCO were invalidated, the county might be left with no vineyard development regulations, Brax said.
Filed by the Friends of the Gualala River, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club, the lawsuit alleges the county violated state law in granting a permit to the Ohlson Ranch in December for a 54-acre vineyard on Stewarts Point Skaggs Springs Road south of Annapolis.
The county's failure to conduct an environmental review of the project constituted a prejudicial abuse of discretion, according to the suit, filed last month.
It's a very simple lawsuit, said Paul Carroll, a Redwood City attorney, asserting that state law required an environmental assessment of the Ohlson project due to its potential for environmental damage.
Carroll said the lawsuit is not an attack on VESCO, but if the courts support it many other vineyard projects would fall under the same requirement.
(Excerpt) Read more at pressdemocrat.com ...
And these people have the nerve to say they are not socialists. The very definition of socialism is control of the means of production and that is precisely what they do. As George Will recently wrote, "Environmentalism is backdoor socialism."
Without property rights, there are no other rights.
Pinot Noir is the only wine I drink.
Save the Grapes.
Kill all the environmentalists!
I’m sure there are more than a few goobers in the grape growing crowd that think the Sierra Club is only about saving the bald eagle and pileated woodpeckers.
Pretty soon navel gazing will be the only industry left in California.
Do you have a favorite Pinot Noir?
“If VESCO were invalidated, the county might be left with no vineyard development regulations, Brax said.”
The horror...the horror.
I like the $7.99 Robert Mondavi from Acampo, CA.
I can’t tell the difference between that and the $19 Mondavi from Napa. I suppose there is a difference, but I can’t taste it.
I’m not a wine connoisseur but I do like California Pinot Noir.
on private property please explain to me how grapes impact the freaking environment.
I live in Sonoma County. The BEST thing about Sonoma is the fantastic wines and beautiful vineyards.
Damn the environmentalists. They destroy everything they touch.
The Sierra Club is mostly about fund-raising, thereby keeping the directors in $600 suits and Beemers.
They're like most enviro-whacko movements -- it ain't really about the environment.
Don't kill them, make them toil in the vineyard.
I don’t drink that much wine, but do enjoy a good Pinot Noir.
Grapes are cultivated by evil capitalists to make a profit at the expense of the native wild flowers and downtrodden prairie grasses, silly.
Sonoma county has a huge grape growing industry, a spinoff from the neighboring Napa valley which is poised to over take that world famous grape growing region in production and quality. Sonoma County contains large remnants of the great northward migration of the “Summer of Love”, the San Francisco hippy culture that flowed northward into the dope growing region of Humboldt County and points north in Oregon and Washington in the mid 70’s. Sonoma County’s second largest city, Sebastopol, was one of the first cities in the state to devote governmental effort towards declaiming itself a “Nuclear Free Zone” and has the highest Prius ownership per capita in the world.
Santa Rosa, Sonoma County’s governmental seat, had an Occupy movement that lasted longer than the one on Wall St. and currently has an ongoing radical organizing and agitation effort centered on the shooting of a teenage latino kid carrying an exact air gun replica of an AK47. This radical demographic bemoans the end of the apple groves which in the past were the major industry in the county along with dairy production. 80% of the old apple groves are now vineyards and the geriatric hippies see this as a violation against some ancient pact with the Earth goddess of your choice. This from the people touting “change” as a rallying cry to pretty much any cause de jour.
At heart, the rad enviros are more conservative than any of us, to the point of wishing the whole “western civilization” thing engineered back to the stone age and work ceaselessly to paralyze any and all “progress” which springs from capitalist vanguardism.
Actual change, the sort that springs from the human capacity to invent, is an anathema to them. They hate change and would have us spending our holidays in Druid groves slitting the throats of farm animals and humans in an endless panoply of ritual and ignorance.
If you ever get the chance try William Selyem. It’s waaaay more than 14 a bottle but it’s the best Pinot I’ve ever had.
Mrs. L grew up in Petaluma. Beautiful country. The only thing wrong with it is that it is absolutely full of Californians.
That’s why they are called Club Sierra.
Sonoma makes wine, Napa makes auto parts