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, 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
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.