SARATOGA (KPIX 5) — Facing a packed room of concerned residents Wednesday night, the Saratoga Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the city council not move forward with its plan to annex a popular concert venue.
Dozens packed the meeting and least three dozen residents spoke during public comment about the city’s proposal to annex The Mountain Winery into Saratoga’s city limits.
It currently sits on Santa Clara County-owned land. The residents said the city’s decision would impact the community for decades. The Mountain Winery attracts thousands each year for its stunning views of Silicon Valley, vineyards and concerts.
City leaders are also considering whether to rezone the property, which would give the winery the green light to build a 300-room hotel, which many residents believe will increase traffic and create congestion on the windy, two-lane road that leads to the winery.
“It’s just ridiculous,” one longtime resident said. “It’s against the whole atmosphere Saratoga creates, and why it’s a nice place to live.”
“A few cars here, a few cars there and before you know it you’ve got gridlock,” another resident told the commission.
But it’s not just traffic they’re worried about. They said the windy, two-lane road to the winery could become a safety hazard in the already high-risk fire zone.
“The action that you’re taking tonight will increase the probability of another fire in my neighborhood, because you’re creating a new zoning designation that intensifies land use,” one resident said.
A co-owner of the Mountain Winery sat quietly in the back of the crowded room listening to some who questioned the whereabouts of the owners on such an important night.
At least one woman told KPIX she recognized co-owner Bill Hirschman and asked him directly if he would speak during the public comment portion of the meeting.
KPIX also asked Hirschman if he would speak, and whether he would grant an interview after the meeting.
“I have no comment, thank you,” he said.
The city council will discuss the planning commission’s recommendation next month.