Business

Justin Vineyards will remove 13 oak trees for Paso expansion — but is planting more

Justin Vineyards and Winery’s storage and bottling facility on Wisteria Lane in Paso Robles. The company is in the process of adding a third building to store wine barrels.
Justin Vineyards and Winery’s storage and bottling facility on Wisteria Lane in Paso Robles. The company is in the process of adding a third building to store wine barrels. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Justin Vineyards and Winery will expand its Paso Robles warehouse and bottling facility — which will require the company to remove 13 oak trees.

But the company will mitigate the loss by planting new trees and preserving a nearby oak woodland on the property.

The brand — owned by the Los Angeles-based Wonderful Co. — is in the process of adding a third building to its Wisteria Lane property on the northeast side of town.

City Council members on Tuesday approved Justin’s plans to construct a 109,454-square-foot building, most of which will be used to store wine barrels. The company already maintains two other buildings on the property.

Building the facility will require the company to remove 13 oak trees around the property — five of which are dead and eight of which are in decline or have had limb failures, according to a city staff report.

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An aerial photo showing the location of a new storage building to be constructed on Justin Vineyards and Winery’s Wisteria Lane property in Paso Robles. The photo also shows the location of 3.4 acres of oak woodland the company plans to preserve through an easement. City of Paso Robles

The expansion and tree removal worried some Paso Robles residents who remember the company’s 2016 clear-cutting of thousands of oak trees at a property in the Adelaida region west of the city.

Matt Steel, Justin’s general manager, addressed this incident at the City Council meeting. He called the clear-cutting a “mistake” and said the company is continuing to monitor the Adelaida site’s remediation.

“The bottom line is, we remain fully committed to the region and wine community,” Steel said. “The Wisteria 3 project before you today is part of our continuing investment in Paso Robles and its continuing success.”

To mitigate the tree removal, the company is required to plant 28 trees on the Wisteria Lane property to comply with the city’s oak tree ordinance.

In addition, Justin will preserve a 3.4-acre oak woodland on the property just behind the buildings.

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Council members ultimately voted 5-0 in favor of the expansion. They said they value the economic benefits the facility’s expansion would bring to the city and view the tree planting and forest preservation as sufficient mitigation.

“I would like to see us be cooperative and work together as a community,” said Councilman Fred Strong. “The benefits of this particular application and this expansion come to the community with so many different benefits in jobs, in income, in all kinds of things.”

Mayor Steve Martin agreed, calling hesitations about the expansion “more about symbolism than logic.”

“I don’t want to hold our future hostage to the past,” he said.

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Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseymholden

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