Tolay Springs development
Mobilize Sonoma is on early watch over a proposed project called “Tolay Springs” which would be located on Highway 121 at the entrance to the Sonoma Valley just north of the Raceway. The applicant is a wealthy Chinese developer named Zhu Wenchen who operates under the name of “Tolay Springs LLC”. County review is just beginning, and there will be a need for comment as the review proceeds, and possibly appeals and legal challenges if the concerns of the community are not heard and responded to.
The project is on 189.73 acres of land formerly owned by the Roche family, and it is described in two parts in the application:
a. a redesign of a previously submitted project for a new 43, 175 sq ft winery building, with attached 3,240 sq ft canopy; 18,045 sq ft of caves; 2,000 sq ft mechanical/refrigeration building; 8,100 sq ft hospitality building; 11,120 sq ft brewery/distillery building; 4,100 sq ft creamery; 4,100 sq ft estate admin/meat shop; 7,200 sq ft barrel building; and 7,140 sq ft fermentation building.
b. A new request for a Use Permit and Design Review for a new 34,610 sq ft winery and olive oil mill processing facility; a 6,300 sq ft tasting room with public tasting, tours and retail sales; and a 2,190 sq ft “farm store. The winery would be capable of producing 60,000 cases per year, and the olive oil mill, 1,500 cases per year.
c. In addition, the applicant is requesting 4, 2-day industry wide events annually and 12 additional agricultural promotional events annually with 300 persons maximum, plus 20 winemaker lunches or dinners annually with 60 persons maximum.
The project is in the early stages of review by the County and, based on past experience, is likely to change as that review proceeds. However we are concerned that, like the casino project that was proposed not far away some years ago, at core the project is far too large for that location at the prime southerly entrance to the Sonoma Valley, and that it will cause considerable traffic problems at a location that already experiences serious traffic delays on a normal day of the week (local traffic) or the weekend (tourism traffic).
Another place where diligence will be required if we are to retain the rural character of the Sonoma Valley.