The tiny crossroads of Freestone (pop. 32), on the road

Faustian Deal: Telecom Pioneer Submits Application for Tasting Room, Event Center in Freestone hamlet

Update: Webley has offered the community water in return for the locals dropping opposition against the outrageous scale of the project in this tiny community.

Mr. Webly, at his expense has agreed to provide the community:

1)    Additional potable water storage in the form a 35,000 gallon tank and associated foundation at / next to the existing treatment plant for the community. (Approx. cost to John $60,000-$70,000)

2)    He has agreed to provide raw water from his domestic well to the community treatment plan.

CONCERNS & ZONING:

In RRD 5) A Use Permit is required for: “Processing of any agricultural product of a type grown or produced on site or in the immediate area, storage of agricultural products grown or processed on site, and bottling or canning of any agricultural product grown or processed on site. “The resources and rural development district is also intended to allow very low density residential development and recreational and visitor-serving uses where compatible with resource use and available public services.”
 
The concern is that a Use Permits is required for visitor serving uses, and as we understand it, tasting rooms in RRD can only sell what is grown on the property. 1) This project does not have a production facility, and it is unclear how many cases of wine can be produced from the grapes grown on the property; and 2) there is no way the AG components of beer are grown on this property. 

Telecom Pioneer Submits Application for Tasting Room, Event Center in Freestone hamlet

The tiny crossroads of Freestone (pop. 32), on the road to Bodega Bay, is the latest

potential victim of an ambitious winery conversion project. A Santa Rosa telecom pioneer

submitted an application to Sonoma County Permit Resource Management Department

(PRMD) to convert a Freestone property to a wine and beer tasting facility, commercial

kitchen, organic gardens and event center.

John Webley, who purchased Santa Rosa’s iconic MacDonald Mansion in 2005 followed

by a five-year, multi-million dollar renovation, applied for the conversion of an historic

barn built in the 1800’s at 12740 Bodega Highway. The application for “Mableton Farms”

requests the following:

Convert the existing 6200 sq. ft. historic barn to a commercial facility to include a

wine tasting bar, beer tasting bar, food sales and art gallery.

A 1050 sq. ft. addition to the barn for restrooms, commercial kitchen and storage.

Creation of a 2460 sq. ft. outdoor patio area at the rear of the barn.

Conversion of the existing 450 sq. ft. residence to an information area.

An outdoor “lawn events area” with an 800 sq. ft. restroom/storage building and

800 sq. ft. covered patio.

A total of 230 parking spaces.

Proposed hours for the tasting room are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, year-round. Proposed

hours for the promotional lunch/dinner activities are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m, every day, yearround,

with two events per month requested. Although weddings are not proposed,

amplified music is proposed on event days.

According to Sonoma PRMD, the application has not yet been assigned to a planner.

Once assigned, it will be sent to county agencies such as Fire and Emergency Services and

Environmental Health for their input. The first hearing will be held in front of the

Landmarks Commission in six months to a year.

A number of Freestone residents, as well as Wine Water Watch oppose development in

the beautiful and rural Freestone Valley and oppose this commercial enterprise based on

the visual, noise and traffic impacts that will inevitably result. More information on the

project, and what you can do to stop it, will be posted as it becomes available.

 

11 comments

  1. Amy Lombrozo

    Freestone water dribbles out the side of a hill into a spring box in a shed. It is usually brown, sulpher tasting and scarce. That is why area ranches have grazed cattle. Even if we have a few good water years groundwater only recharges at 7% of rainfall. It will be decades before rechargeing fro the last 5 years. There is an agriculture event center in Sonoma County called the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. If a ag business cannot survive on ag products neighbors should not have to commercialize their neighbor hoods to support them. That is not what Sonoma County Farm Trails had in mind with occasional seasonal farm visits.

    • Janus Matthes

      |Author

      Amy, we agree with your comments. Freestone is water scarce and vines were always dry farmed prior to 1970. If you look at the Sonoma County Crop Reports, you can see since watering of vines became the norm, the wineries can pack in more vines and plump them with water, our water. The tonnage has almost doubled now and some grapes get over $4000 a ton. We have an article called “The Myth of the Family Winery” which shows the consolidation in the industry to multinational corporations. I also have exact figures on water use, tons per acre and current prices at this site. Use the search engine on the upper right corner to get more information. Thank you for your comments. It’s all about land use policies that allow industrialization of our farm lands. We import 96% of our food according to GoLocal. Support your local farmers of food.

  2. C J Layton

    Do our Sonoma County area roads really need more drivers on them when those drivers have been visiting tasting rooms? I don’t think so. We have bicycle riders, walkers, other vehicles on the roads and don’t need to increase the probably of “accidents” happening due to more people being under the influence, especially now that the marijuana use is so easily available. Freestone is beautiful and could be a place where families take picnics to eat in areas tucked here and there along the roads. Wine doesn’t need to be available everywhere. Places to pull off the road and take a break with family and friends to just be outdoors would be a big bonus for everyone. What people carry in weighs more than the trash they too often leave behind. It just makes sense to remind public of that and that taking trash back out of an area is just the right thing to do. Keep Freestone area quiet and beautiful. Please.

  3. Mike perry

    We locals will not support this tourism nonsence,we have enough tourist’s as it is… go to Disneyland or SeaWorld.. leave us Alone in our peaceful quiet home.

    • Janus Matthes

      |Author

      Or as George Davis,(biodynamic Porter Creek wines) says, “Dizzyland”. People come for the beauty. They have choices to go somewhere else. As this project unfolds, we will update.

  4. Brian Ledig

    One persons gain will dramatically decrease the value of all other property in the area. We must stop this project and keep rural Freestone and surrounding areas rural! Please keep me posted as to what we can do. We live in a pastoral setting, let’s keep it that way!

  5. Stephen Pollaine

    I don’t like the idea of “amplified music on event days”. Although I live a few miles away, I’m afraid I’ll still hear it. I moved here because of the natural environment and quiet. Hearing amplified music will destroy the natural ambience that I came to love.

  6. CAPT LARRY RAU

    The scale of this monstrosity would drain that lake every day or two.
    The number of gallons of toxic cleaners consumed daily by the resturaunt, bathrooms for 750 people
    the run off from 240 car parking lot, the hericides, and pesticides used to maintain this un-natural
    mess..

    All have no place to go but down hill into the FEDERALLY PROTECTED COHO SALMON HABITAT
    THAT IS SALMON CREEK.

    THE SMALL BUILDING ON THE ROAD HAS NEVER HAD A SEPTIC TANK IN 40 YEARS..BECAUSE IT WILL NOT PERK.
    ACROSS THE STREET THEY HAD TO BUILD A BIG MOUND SYSTEM… FOR THAT UNDER UTILIZED TASTING MONSTROSITY.

    PRMD NEEDS ENGINEERING STUDIES, AND FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL SIGN OFF… BEFORE LIFTING A FINGER TO APPROVE A SINGLE DAMN THING. TO GET THE EFFULUENT TO MEET TERTIARY TREATMENT STANDARDS THAT ‘MIGHT’ ALLOW RUN OFF INTO SALMON CREEK.. IT WOULD TAKE A PRIMARY AND SECONDARY TREATMENT PLANT AND A ‘SWAMP TYPE” TERTIARY TREATMENT WHICH WOULD OCCUPY ALL THE LAND THEY HAVE AVAILABLE FOR THIER ‘DEVELOPMENT’ SCHEME…. PATENTLY UN TENABLE FROM A SCIENTIFIC STANDPOINT. ONLY BULL SHIT WAIVERS THAT DENY BASIC SCIENCE COULD LET THIS GO FORWARD.
    ENVIONMENTAL BOON DOOGGLE OF THE FIRST ORDER.

  7. Anthony

    So, is this the same group who ran tractors overnight, all night last year installing their vineyard(s)?
    So much for the neighbors eh?
    We’re a mile away and were kept awake all night for days; not very neighborly. I nearly drove down with my pitchfork and torch.
    The amplified music is the deal killer for me; sound travels quite far and is very noticeable in a quiet area like Freestone. Quiet is so hard to find any longer, so don’t mess with our quietude dude.
    The family should have offered a community meeting and gotten feedback first; there’s probably a compromise which could be reached, but when you come in with “240 parking spaces” and “amplified music”, various “Clubs”, it’s obvious the family just doesn’t get it.
    Also, howzabout not spraying herbicides which end-up in our streams and our groundwater and our bodies?

    A 60 year area resident

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