Amador County

The Amador County Board of Supervisors revoked a controversial rezoning of property outside of Ione at their latest meeting on Tuesday, June 8.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Supervisors voted unanimously to revoke a previous approval, which rezoned 1,100 acres of land – located about a mile and half west of the city limits of Ione – from residential and agricultural uses to industrial zoning. The Board approved the rezone in December of last year and while no specific development project was attached to the decision, under the county’s development code, industrial zoning allows for a wide range of controversial potential uses, from meat packing plants to oil refineries. The December hearing on the proposal had seen many nearby residents voice concern over the potential impact from heavy industrial uses.

The Foothill Conservancy and the group “Friends of Greater Ione” filed suit in Amador Superior Court to block the rezoning, challenging the environmental review that the county had performed before changing the zoning. Rather than fight the issue out in court, the project developer requested that the Board of Supervisor revoke the zoning decision.

Unlike the original approval of the industrial zone, Tuesday’s public hearing saw no members of the public commenting on the issue. District 5 Supervisor Brian Oneto accused opponents of the project of “fighting to build more housing and do away with jobs and manufacturing,” while District 2 Supervisor Richard Forster offered: “Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it and get something worse in the future.”

The land in question remains designated for industrial use in the county’s General Plan and the applicant could apply again for a rezone in the future.

New tasting rooms could face reviews

In a separate matter at Tuesday’s meeting, the Board directed county staff to move forward with drafting new permit requirements for winery tasting rooms in the county’s Agriculture and Exclusive Agriculture zones.

If adopted, the new requirements would mean that new tasting rooms in these zones, which include much of the county’s rural lands, would face public review by the Amador County Planning Commission and undergo environmental review for issues such as traffic and noise before they could open.

Under current rules, new tasting rooms in the two agriculture zones are allowed “by-right” and require no public review. As wineries continue to open in the county, particularly in the Shenandoah Valley, they have drawn complaints from residents over impacts from traffic, parking and noise, particularly from events of up to 450 attendees that county code currently allows.