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Panel cuts Vino in the Valley of El Paso request, delays decision on music

ELLSWORTH, Wis.--A request to expand operations at Vino in the Valley, host of outdoor dining and entertainment events at a vineyard in the Town of El Paso, was scaled back in a compromise by the Pierce County Land Management Committee Wednesday. Over 30 people attended the meeting, with most who spoke opposing the expansion, though some were in favor.

Owner Larry Brenner had asked for changes as the conditional use permit he received from the county with the start of his enterprise last year nears expiration. Brenner admitted to the committee he misjudged his business plan initially and now seeks more days and hours of operation, plus more seating. He recognized an additional issue, the sound level of music played during his events, is of particular concern to those in opposition, but invited committee members to visit and hear for themselves, contending it isn't a nuisance to neighbors.

The expansion and intensification of Brenner's permit was acted upon by El Paso town officials before being forwarded to the county committee. The number of days to operate annually sought by Brenner was trimmed to 75 at the town level and was ultimately reduced to 60 by the committee.

Also in the committee's ultimate approval, which included Member Don Nellessen voting against, eight conditions and the hours of operation were accepted as noted. The latter vary between the periods from April through September and October through December, but allow for some afternoon and evening times on Saturdays and Sundays, besides Thursday evenings.

The committee allowed the number of seats to be 120 in their final approval; however, a condition was added that parking spaces be increased to 40. Members deferred the part of the request about amplifying live music until after an on-site visit is made (late last week, that visit was announced as being scheduled for Wednesday, March 19).

In a separate but related matter, the committee okayed a conditional use permit for a farmers market and gift shop on Brenner's property, allowing 83 days of operation yearly and again varying hours for the two sets of months, among six other conditions.

Read more in the print version of the Pierce County Herald March 12.