Benton County commissioners Tuesday gave their blessing to a plan that will guide future development on Red Mountain.
The plan covers 5,400 acres, including the entire Red Mountain American Viticultural Area, or AVA. It establishes a vision, guiding principles, recommendations and strategies "to achieve the desired goals" in the area, according to information from county staff.
Several people spoke during a public hearing, urging commissioners to sign off.
As development interest in the prime grape-growing region mounted, it became clear a plan was needed to ensure "all of it makes sense," grower Jim Holmes told commissioners. "We need this."
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Ed Shaw, president of the Red Mountain AVA Alliance, added that "we're very, very happy about this day, that we've come (to this point). There's a lot of heavy lifting to go, with the implementing ordinances. But this is a very, very professional and comprehensive document that I don't think is going to be put on a shelf and forgotten."
The commissioners' vote was unanimous; the master site plan will become part of the county's comprehensive plan.
The Red Mountain planning process dates to 2005; it was commissioned by the county, a group of vineyard and winery owners, local agencies and other stakeholders.
The plan talks about the kind of development that should happen in the area, envisioning -- for example -- a visitor-oriented wine village. The master site plan and supporting documents are on the planning department's page of the county website, www.co.benton.wa.us.
w Commissioners directed staff to start the process of bringing a new restroom to the county fairgrounds. It's to go near the grange building, replacing the existing main restroom -- which has antiquated plumbing, among other issues -- in the same area.
The existing restroom has capacity for 22 people, and the new one would double that.
The price tag is estimated at $750,000, with the money coming from funds that must be spent on capital projects.
It likely wouldn't be in place until next year.