LIVERMORE -- Developers will move ahead with a wine tasting room planned for south Livermore, despite objections of neighbors worried about increased traffic.
On Monday, the City Council voted 4-1 to reject an appeal of plans for a new Mitchell Katz Winery tasting room and retail space. The 10,000-square-foot building is planned for the northwest corner of Hansen and Arroyo roads.
In taking their vote, council members said they lacked the power to force the developer to move a controversial proposed driveway to the site.
About 10 residents, many from the Los Olivos neighborhood, addressed the council, asking members to make a change to the South Livermore Specific Plan and to require the developer to relocate the driveway to Arroyo Road. Residents expressed concerns about impaired drivers leaving the tasting room and traveling down the narrow, winding Hansen Road.
The city's planning commission members denied an earlier request by Katz to develop a winery on the property, but approved a tasting room for the parcel on Oct. 24.
John Messier, coordinator of the Los Olivos Neighborhood Watch, who appealed the commission's decision, told council members that polls conducted of local residents showed support for moving the driveway to divert traffic away from kids playing along Hansen.
"The price tag may be an issue, but how do you put a price on children?" Messier asked.
City staff members estimated the tasting room would add 1,105 daily trips through the area. The nearby neighborhoods of Los Olivos, The Corners and Twin Oaks consist of a combined 186 homes and about 600 residents, according to the city.
Councilwoman Laureen Turner, who cast the lone vote against denying the appeal, said she had "grave concerns" over increased traffic.
"We're asking for trouble if that road is on Hansen," Turner said. "It makes no sense to put in a road that's going to be used this heavily in this neighborhood."
City attorney John Pomidor informed council members there was little they could do about the safety concerns, besides suggest that Katz move the driveway.
"Right now, what you have are rules in the specific plan and on the property, so those are the rules that need to be applied," Pomidor said.
Councilman Stewart Gary said he saw no reason to overturn the commission's approval, given that the plan meets existing codes -- but with the caveat that the city do everything in its power to divert cars leaving the tasting room to Arroyo Road.
Besides denying the appeal, council members passed motions to monitor traffic after the tasting room is built, and to review the specific plan for requirements regarding future wine making operations.
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184 or follow him at twitter.com/jet_bang.