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Council denies winery's food application over residents protest

Large crowd at Penticton city hall to protest a winery's application to serve food and build a patio. No. 1 concern was proximity to residential areas.
June 18, 2013 - 2:08 PM

PENTICTON - An applause followed city council's decision to deny a winery's food service and patio application.

Perseus Winery's request was turned down at Monday's city council meeting by a split vote with Coun. Wesley Hopkin and acting mayor Garry Litke leading the charge to deny.

Hopkin said the winery didn't even fit inside a residential zone but the original owners got the OK in 2007. Litke denied the application to safeguard zoning integrity. The residents wanted to maintain their privacy and keep the noise level down. Perseus Winery management Rob Ingram and Sam Elia just want to be able to compete with other wineries who can serve appetizers as well as wine.

Residents of Lower Bench Road and nearby streets crowded the council chambers until it was standing room only. Many said the winery should have never been permitted to have its main building so close to a residential zone.

Neil Campbell lives at 130 Lower Bench Rd. and said he does not want to see more vehicles idling due to a possible traffic increase. He complained about headlights at night shining in through home windows and the noise level from people visiting the winery.

Others echoed Campbell's comments about the noise. One man said, "Now we can listen to people who are fired up with wine on the (winery's) deck."

"We are at the point where we say enough is enough," Campbell said. "This is the wrong thing in the wrong place."

Litke said zoning exists for a reason. Back in 2007 council allowed the zoning in the area to change which has now resulted in this conflict.

"That does not make for healthy neighbourhoods."

Elia defended his winery. He said people shouldn't assume everyone will get drunk. He and Ingram suggested Plexiglas can solve most of the noise issues and the addition of food service will double the employee count from four to eight.

Ingram said the outdoor patio will address appearance needs and he assured residents and council the winery cannot serve beer or spirits. He said the winery never received noise complaints and if it did it would be on the receiving end of bylaw enforcement.

"The footprint of the winery has not changed," Ingram said.

The winery did hold a public meeting earlier this year about building a rooftop deck but residents complained so the company backed off.

"For the past three years Perseus has been respectful of its neighbours," Ingram explained, and Elai said they will enforce the no-idling bylaw.

Residents also complained about speeding traffic on Lower Bench Road endangering people and children. Council said that's not the fault of Perseus. The traffic is there because of all the wineries further up in Naramata and along Lower Bench Road. A few councillors suggested looking at speed bumps.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Quesnel at squesnel@infotelnews.ca, call 250-488-3065 or tweet @shannonquesnel1

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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