Opinion: Old Creek Road residents concerned about winery

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By Terri Wolfe

Re: the Holguin Family’s Sept. 24 Op-Ed: “Winery’s 2nd round with supervisors: Unfair policies must change”: Old Creek Road residents’ years of residency:

Fisher — 2; Harkins Family — 48; Johnson Family — 26; MacDougall — 22; Mancilla Family — 22; Moore Family — 33; Ross Family — 5; VanLith — 22; Wilk Family — 22; Wolfe Family — 27.

The Old Creek Ranch Winery was recently found in violation of many county regulations relating to unpermitted new construction and increases in size and type of winery uses without obtaining a conditional use permit. OCRW would have us believe that they are the victims of overzealous county compliance staff. Really, they are victims of their own disregard for regulations designed to protect people and property by providing guidelines that serve the larger community.

As residents on the very narrow Old Creek Road that serves as the sole ingress and egress of the winery, hundreds of people speeding on an average weekend day — coupled with the dangers of entry onto Highway 33 — are deeply concerning. Analyzing these types of conditions before the fact is just one reason for the CUP process. With the fi re and safety issues of “one way in and one way out” and adding hundreds of people and scores of cars to the mix, it is a disaster waiting to happen.

There are processes in place for a reason. We get permits, we pay fees, we get inspections, we apply for CUPs and abide by them. This is for the greater good of the people closest to any applicable property and for patrons.

While the residents of Old Creek Road are content with the current 5-0 (against) vote by the supervisors, the ongoing issue of compliance and cessation of activities is still an active issue. While the issues at hand may have seemed minor in isolation, together, they illustrate an owner’s blatant ignoring of rules, regulations, and restrictions and total disregard of families who have lived on the road for decades.

One supervisor made the statement that this property “has the potential to be a great asset to the community.” Actually, it only has the potential to be an asset to the adult entertainment of a small segment of the population in the Ojai Valley and a large benefi t to tourists from outside the area.

Also, consider this: We support all the other businesses and wineries throughout the Ojai Valley who have done business by the rules, received permits, obtained CUPs (or not, based on community input) and paid the fees in order to open successful businesses for us to enjoy.

Bottom line, OCRW understands it is highly unlikely they would be granted a CUP without substantial money invested and modifi cation made to the surrounding areas, so they are simply going to tie this up for years and continue to do what they want, hoping to wear everyone down (using their unlimited funds to do so). They will not wear down the residents who truly are relegated to staying inside their homes on weekends. We hope they won't wear down the county Planning staff. It is seriously doubtful a CUP would be approved because of Highway 33 traffi c, fi re safety, the size of the road, no secondary access and more.

The residents of Old Creek Road support a vineyard. We support a small wine operation. We do not support a large venue and a wine-drinking business at the end of our road that has severely decreased the quality of life we have enjoyed for decades. This is a road of local, hardworking, full-time residents — something that is becoming scarcer in this valley.

— Terri Wolfe lives in Ventura.


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