Wineries Coming to Kennewick? Only If You Ask For Them

KENNEWICK -- Wineries could set up shop in kennewick... if you ask for it.

"Open space doesn't really have a home and, for us, we need a home, we want to be a winery," 360 Cellars Owner Jason Sleater said.

Jason Sleater wants 360 cellars to be the first full-blown winery in Kennewick.

"Our major roadblocks were, of course, the zoning and then this being a residence basically, we needed to get the city's approval," he said.

Right now, wineries are not permitted on open space zoning districts in Kennwick. So for more than a year, Sleater and a handful of other local wine-makers called on the city to re-zone some open spaces.

"These things work in clusters and if we all work together -- we've actually started a little wine committee -- and we're all working together to try to open this up to public and open it up to what we think it should be and that is a wine area," Sleater said.

"We all know that winery industry is growing industry in the Tri City area," Ferdouse Oneza said, City of Kennewick Interim Planning Manager.

Oneza wants to see if people agree with Sleater. So the city of Kennewick is proposing a potential code amendment to the open space ordinance.

"We want to see if it serves the purpose and the balance of the open space too," she said. "We want to see that balance between those two."

Oneza showed me a map of the city of Kennewick. Everything that's green is an open space. There's approximately 1750 acres of open space land in Kennewick, both developable and undevelopable, including parks.

But not everything is up for grabs. Wineries are looking at places like Southridge and parts of Canyon Lakes. City parks are not on the chopping block.

"We really do have to ask these questions, that open space does have value in itself. It has value as a viewscape, as an attractor to future business," Scott Woodward said, Tapteal Greenway Association President.

Woodward is an advocate for green space.

"I think it's an opportunity, the way I look at it," Woodward said. "It's an opportunity to solidify that dialogue between open space and its value."

Woodward is one of several community members who will weigh in on the pitch. The city put together an advisory committee in order to represent all groups within the community.

"This puts us on the map and provides an excellent opportunity for wineries and wine-makers to come into this area and help us grow," Sleater said.

Kennewick city council members have already approved wineries to work in commercial zones, but this plan would expand those spaces further.

The city wants feedback so they've set up a public meeting on January 21, 2008, from 2-5 pm, in the Council Chamber at Kennewick City Hall.

For more information call Ferdouse Oneza at (509) 585-4463 or email rdouseo@ci.kennewick.wa.us.