Planning group OKs requests from Milagro, Tractor Supply Company

By Karen Brainard

Approval to seek an administrative permit by Milagro Farm Vineyards and Winery so it can continue holding weddings, and a request to waive the undergrounding of utilities for Tractor Supply Company at Hunter and Main streets, sailed through the Ramona Community Planning Group Oct. 10 with little to no resistance.

Christopher “Kit” Sickels, owner of Milagro Farm Vineyards and Winery, explains to the Ramona Community Planning Group the county process he has to follow to hold weddings and other events on his property. Assisting him is Kami Evora, Milagro’s zoning coordinator/sales, with photos and a map of the winery grounds. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

Christopher “Kit” Sickels, who owns Milagro with his wife, Karen, told the planning group that someone had turned his winery in to county code enforcement a few months ago because they were holding weddings on site. Sickels said they didn’t realize they needed the additional permitting to hold events such as weddings. The winery  at 18750 Littlepage Road has a tasting room along with the old crush house and wine cave that can serve as venues for parties.

Sickels said he has met with county staff, engineers, inspectors and the fire marshal and is working to meet all code requirements, including Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) codes. He has also hired a full-time person to help him work through the process.

“We are not making any changes to the size of our structures,” Sickels said.

Although the building that houses the tasting room was built to ADA standards, the county had it labeled as a storage building, he said. The wine cave and crush house will be brought up to ADA standards and fire codes, Sickels said. That will include some excavation of the underground cave to add secondary ingress/egress and installing paved ADA-compliant parking spaces.

Sickels told the Sentinel that the idea for weddings on site started when someone asked if they could get married there. This past summer Milagro played host to 13 weddings, he said, and had bookings for the fall.

“The county has given me permission to have the ones we had booked,” said Sickels.

Sickels said he did not know what the cost of the changes will be, but it would be substantial. More important to him, he added, is the time delay as he cannot book any more events until the county gives its OK. County staff, he noted, has been helpful.

The RCPG unanimously approved his project.

Ramona developer Steve Powell presented Tractor Supply Company’s request to waive undergrounding utilities, as required under a county policy, along its property line at Hunter and Vermont streets due to the expense. The company plans to build a 20,000-square-foot hobby farm store, which received RCPG approval in July.

Of the more than 1,100 nationwide stores, Powell said, “Ramona has taken the award as the most expensive location.”

He cited California Environmental Quality Act requirements, transportation impact fees, and conformance to Ramona’s proposed form-based code as contributing cost factors.

Powell said TSC wants to open 14 stores in the county.

“This location is the pilot project,” he said.

RCPG Vice Chair Scotty Ensign said he thought it would be overkill to underground the utilities in that area.

The waiver request passed 12-1 with Kevin Wallace, who expressed concern about granting developer waiver requests, opposing.

Related posts:

  1. Tractor Supply drawings pass muster with Ramona planning group
  2. Developer proposes Tractor Supply store for Ramona at Main and Hunter
  3. Milagro Farm Vineyards & Winery in Ramona wins Best of San Diego County
  4. Wanted: Webmaster to create planning group website
  5. Planning group cancels meeting

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Posted by Staff on Oct 16 2013. Filed under Archive, Business, Featured Story, News, Ramona. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

6 Comments for “Planning group OKs requests from Milagro, Tractor Supply Company”

  1. Don Kedick

    Thank you Kevin Wallace. Shame on you Scotty Ensign. Overkill? too expensive? If TSC doesn't have to underground the utilities, why should anyone have to? Failure RCPG.

  2. Guest

    What, no more thrift stores to approve? I think the planning group needs to seriously consider the mixed messages being sent. The clientele that visits vineyards are very unlikely to want to do so in a town that has as it's primary retail tenents a K-Mart, two dollar stores, a Goodwill Store and a Thrift Store. It kind of ruins the ambiance one expects when going out for a day of wine tasting or antique shopping. I think the planning group needs to decide if we're going to model ourselves after Napa or Lakeside.

    • Torry

      Planning groups do not have the ability to choose what tenants are allowed to rent a building. I agree that we have way too many thrift stores, but that is determined by the free market and the people who own commercial space.

      • Guest

        If what you say is true, then how can the planning group "approve" his project? If there is no real approval power, then what's the point of having a planning group at all?

        • Torry

          I was referring primarily to the the thrift store references. A lot of people assume the planning group can choose who occupies a space (i.e. the 99 cent store moving into the old Daniel's center). Once the building is built local planners have no influence. It is a little different with new construction, since the planning group is involved in approving permits. New wineries have to go through the permitting process, and therefore are seen by the planning groups. Even with new construction approvals, the only power they really have has to do with the building, not the business itself (provided its use fits within the approved zoning ordinance).

          Planning groups really have very little power. They have a voice in new construction, road issues, and can provide feedback to the county on long term planning issues, but that is it. Even then, everything is advisory only, and the real decisions will be made down the hill. They do not substitute for a City Council.

  3. Guest

    Mr. Sickels. Your competitors turned you in.

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