Planning Commission holds public hearings on Brewing Lair, Whitehawk property

By Victoria Metcalf

Special to Plumas News

Four members of the Plumas County Planning Commission held two public hearings concerning the general plan and zoning change requests Thursday, Nov. 19 — one for the Brewing Lair and the other for Whitehawk Ranch property owners.

Planning staff began working with the owners of The Brewing Lair in 2010, Assistant Planning Director Becky Herrin said.

In October, members of the planning commission visited the Blairsden/Graeagle location off Highway 70 in anticipation of working with Richard and Susan DeLano for Mountain Goat Farmstead LLC.

Essentially, the owners built a house and turned it into a brewery, said Commissioner Tom McGowan.

No one went into detail about how or why the owners of the Brewing Lair moved forward with a business without permits or zoning changes, but it was spelled out by planning staff that the owners are now working fully with the county to rectify the requirements.

The project involves the 2035 county General Plan Amendment land use designation and corresponding zoning change, explained Herrin. “The property is occupied by an existing non-conforming business known as The Brewing Lair, a brewery with tasting room and associated recreational component,” Herrin said.

The existing general plan land use designation is Rural Residential with the zoning of R-10 for rural area that permits residential uses. “The general plan amendment and zone change application is intended to bring the existing operation into compliance with the general plan and zoning,” Herrin said.

Although the property owners began their work with the county 10 years ago, Herrin said that planning staff actually began the general plan update in 2009. During this process no applications for general plan amendments were accepted. “There was discussion about processing a special use permit, but it was determined that a General Plan Amendment and zone change would be most appropriate in order to bring the property into compliance,” according to Herrin.

In July 2018, the owners submitted a general plan amendment and zone change to their two parcels.

“Owners/applicants desire to keep the existing brewery operational and possibly expand the operation to include a restaurant and additional outdoor recreational activities, such as disc golf,” Herrin said.

In keeping with Senate Bill 18 and Assembly Bill 52, planning staff contacted the Native American Heritage Commission in Sacramento for input on cultural places when amending the general plan. “No comments or concerns were raised during the consultation process and none of the California Native American tribes traditionally and culturally affiliated with the project area have requested consultation,” Herrin said.

During the hearing it was pointed out that the DeLanos have improved the water resources, and made changes to the property to meet with requirements from the Graeagle Fire Department. For the first 10 years they couldn’t have gotten a fire truck on the property, McGowan explained. Trucks couldn’t even turn around, he added.

The DeLanos have also torn down some buildings and still need to meet obligations to Caltrans concerning the private roadways entrance onto Highway 70.

To rectify the previous lack of permits for the business and buildings, Herrin laid out a list of compliances the DeLanos are working toward. Commissioners agreed to send their recommendation to supervisors for their approval in the near future.

Out at Whitehawk

In another public hearing, commissioners voted to send a recommendation to the Plumas County Board of Supervisors for zoning and general plan changes. If supervisors approve the recommendation, Whitehawk Ranch property owners Rhonda and Alec Dieter can move forward with plans to use an existing steel building as a place to store vehicles, equipment and supplies for a yard maintenance business.

In earlier years, the property owners received planning commission approval to turn a metal building into a home for rabbits and chickens, but the Dieters returned with a request for more changes to the county’s general plan and zoning ordinances to house a yard business.

Tim Evans, associate planner, went over the request and the staff’s research with commissioners. When the property was originally developed in 1992 it was under the auspices of Whitehawk Ranch development. That agreement limited out in 2006, so the Dieters’ plans and others are now under the planning department and commission. Evans said that the proposals meet with county plans.

Commissioners unanimously voted to approve the recommendation that will go before supervisors for final approval.

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