Wallingford winery owner will submit revised expansion plan

Wallingford winery owner will submit revised expansion plan


WALLINGFORD — Gouveia Vineyards owner Joe Gouveia plans to submit a revised application to expand his east-side winery after the Planning and Zoning Commission decided this week his initial application would need a traffic study.

Gouveia said Friday he has no interest in paying for a study and will move forward without expansion of his winery’s tasting room. The commission told Gouveia he needed to conduct a traffic study to expand the tasting room because it could attract additional customers.

The commission requested the study and postponed a decision on Gouveia’s application after hearing concerns from two nearby residents about traffic. The Whirlwind Road vineyard is in a rural, residential area.

Gouveia said his revised application will include expansion of a basement storage area and two permanent bathrooms to replace portable bathrooms outside. He hopes to receive approval at the commission’s next meeting, scheduled for April 12.

In past years, the vineyard’s 30,000 vines have produced a larger volume of grapes, creating a need for more storage space, according to Gouveia.

“I don’t have enough room to process the grapes that I grow here,” he said earlier this week.

Without expanding storage, Gouveia said he would have needed to reduce grape vines and staffing.

“I worked so hard to plant those vines, and I just don’t have the heart to let people go because I don’t have room to store my products,” Gouveia said Friday.

Gouveia said his large surplus of vines was created by old state regulations that required wineries make wine with 51 percent of their own grapes. To be able to do this, Gouveia grew a large number of vines before the state changed the requirement to 25 percent of homegrown grapes, leaving him with more vines than needed.

Two nearby residents told the commission they opposed the project because they believe the winery already attracts too much traffic for the area and believe the expansion could generate more.

“Joe, you do a very nice job with the vineyard, but the traffic that it’s generating in the area is just way too much,” said David Jones, who lives a little over a mile away on Windswept Hill Road. “It’s not what I moved into the area to see.”

Ed Makepeace, a nearby resident and former planning commission member, told the PZC that he believes the vineyard has exceed the town’s limits for traffic generated by businesses in the rural zone.

“The traffic really should have been questioned before this point,” Makepeace said.

Gouveia said he believes excessive traffic is only an issue on isolated days, including holiday weekends. He said Makepeace is basing his claims on Columbus Day weekend.

According to town zoning regulations in the RU-120 rural zone, where the vineyard is located, “a winery shall conduct no activity that generates more than 100 peak hour vehicles trips.”

At the meeting earlier this week, Town Planner Kacie Costello said the town isn’t aware of any zoning violations at the vineyard.

Costello could not be reached for comment on Friday.

To determine compliance, the commission wanted Gouveia to conduct a traffic study, which would count vehicle trips during the vineyard’s “peak hours.”

Commission member Rocco Matarazzo said Monday he couldn’t “responsibly” vote on the proposal to expand the tasting room without a traffic study, a feeling shared by other commissioners.

Following the meeting, commission members said they could not comment on a pending application.

The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for April 12 in the Town Council Chambers at Town Hall, 45 S. Main St.

mzabierek@record-journal.com 203-317-2279


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