Correction: This article was updated June 18 to correct the name of a resident expressing concern about winery traffic.
WASHINGTON — A proposed winery off East Cruger Road continues to be a topic of debate as it moves closer to fruition.
After hearing Monday from speakers who support and oppose the winery, City Council members held a first reading of ordinances that allow breweries, distilleries and wineries as special uses in agricultural zones and establish a new liquor license for wineries. That would allow wineries to serve wine in an outdoor area and sell wine for consumption off the premises. The annual fee would be $1,150.
The council will vote on the ordinances July 1. The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 3-1 on June 5 to recommend approval of the special uses ordinance.
Tres Rojas Winery owners Bob and Lisa Barry purchased 50.6 acres of city-owned farmland at 1774 E. Cruger Road, east of Diebel Road, for $219,000, on June 3.
Since then, the winery's establishment has been winding its way through the city's administrative process, with residents speaking out for and against the business. That is expected to last until September.
On Monday, John Amdall of Washington said he supports the winery in part because it would be an agricultural business in an agricultural area.
"It also would demonstrate that the city is easy to do business with, and bring money into the city," he said. "That land is not generating any property taxes right now."
But another resident, Bob Montgomery, expressed concern the winery would lead to increased traffic and incidents of impaired driving on East Cruger.
"Plus, East Cruger would be an unfamiliar road to many who visit the winery, and it's a road that rises and falls," he said. "I'm not against having a winery in Washington. It shouldn't be on a narrow, rural road. Put it in the city."
The proposed special use ordinance requires one off-street parking space for each 400 square feet of a business' floor area and one off-street parking space for each four seats in an outdoor seating area.
Also, only one ground sign that's no larger than 50 square feet would be allowed.
Previous attempts by Tres Rojas Winery to set up shop in East Peoria and Peoria failed because of residents' concerns.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.