Ada County gave a bustling Eagle foothills winery the go-ahead to become an event center.
On Tuesday, Ada County Commissioners voted to allow Dude DeWalt Cellars on Highway 16 to become an event center on top of their winery approval with a few compromises. This comes after an hours-long, late-night hearing earlier this month where the board heard dueling appeals from both a nearby neighbor hoping for heavy restrictions on the winery and from the owner who wanted the ability to host more and larger events on the property.
Commissioner Ryan Davidson requested the vote be tabled to Tuesday’s meeting due to the lateness of the hour and the complexity of the topic after the public hearing, but he was not present at this week’s meeting. The final approval for the conditions will take place on June 28 after county staff has time to prepare the paperwork, but Commissioner Kendra Kenyon and Commissioner Rod Beck both agreed to allow Dude DeWalt Cellars to expand with some event size restrictions and requirements for additional trees to screen the property.
The conflict over Dude DeWalt Cellars is part of a bigger tussle between the wine industry which is hoping to expand into the foothills of Eagle and nearby neighbors who feel like the industry is infringing on their peaceful rural lives. The Idaho Wine Commission, neighbors and Ada County are currently in negotiations to try to find a compromise on the county’s ordinance requiring signatures from 75% of property owners within 1,000 feet to approve alcohol sales.
What are the new conditions?
Commissioner Kendra Kenyon had requirements for how Dude DeWalt will be required to operate with the event center/social hall permit. She said the location near the main roadway and the demand for wineries make it an ideal place to have a business of this nature.
“The location of the center based on the fact that it sits on Highway 16 and we’ve had close to 100 people in the community state they want a facility like this and this is needed in that area, so I think this would be a good location fo ran event center,” Kenyon said.
But, the center will be held to some requirements by the county. Kenyon said the upper parking lot of the winery needs additional screening from trees at least six feet in height to protect neighbors and the proposed production facility should be moved 50 feet further south on the property to the original location the business pitched before Planning & Zoning reviewed the application.
Kenyon said any events at the facility under 100 guests are not limited, but Dude DeWalt Cellars will be limited to 24 events per year with a maximum of 250 attendees. This is nine more than Planning & Zoning was going to allow and it doubles the number of attendees that qualify as a special event. Kenyon also opted to eliminate the requirement that the Ada County Planning Director be notified anytime events occur on the property.
Dude DeWalt Cellars will also be required to modify Highway 16 near the entrance to their property before they can begin hosting larger events. Kenyon required 150 overflow parking spaces and added a requirement for the winery to close at 6 p.m. on Monday and Tuesdays.
Commissioner Beck said he wanted to see a review at the one-year mark.
“I would like to add the notion that this would come up for review in a year and the applicant can give us an idea if these are overly restrictive or how it’s working in the neighborhood,” Beck said. “I think that would be beneficial to all parties concerned.”