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Moraga Vision: Winery? Performing Arts Center?

Owner Roger Poynts has a diversified vision for 85 acres on the Moraga Road-Rheem Boulevard hillside, and is asking for public comment on the plan.

The owner of perhaps the most visible tract of land in Moraga has a distinctive vision of future development — and is inviting community comment on the vision on a public website.

Roger Poynts has a plan for "Painted Rock Winery & Performing Arts Center." The project calls for a vineyard with "wine caves" for storage, a performing arts amphitheater, a park with hiking trails, and residential, "viticultural estate lots." The wine caves are combined with a "black box" stage intended for dinner theater. The project envisions a "hospitality tasting pavilion," as well.

All of that on 85 acres that rise along Moraga Road and Rheem Boulevard — including the "painted rocks" outcropping where you can learn in graffiti and graphic symbols what's on the mind of Campolindo High students.

Poynts had a less diversified application with the town of Moraga five years ago. With new development features in the plan, he said he will need to revise the plan and map. But first, he said, he has put out the new plan on the website and solicited public input. He is asking for emails to poynts@udi-tetrad.com

"It's the best use of the property for the longest term," said Poynts, a civil engineer. "As I've talked to people, the park is something that's a very positive thing for Moraga." He said the plan leaves about 90 percent of the property in a natural state.

He also anticipates town support for revenue reasons. "It's a long-term benefit to have something that will produce more tax revenue for the town," he said.

Poynts said the town gets $361 in taxes from the site now — less than a dollar a day. The hillsides now are empty bot for the cows stepping daintily along contour paths and grazing back the fire danger.

The project would eventually have to gain approval to build on land partially protected by the town's open space ordinance, Moraga Planning Director Shawna Brekke-Read told the Contra Costa Times.

Pharaoh April 05, 2013 at 05:41 PM
This is wrong for Moraga on many fronts. The infrastructure of the town and the environment cannot support a project of this magnitute. This started with the approval of the Palos Colorado project and now the flood gates have opened. The statement that they want to make Moraga a "destination" sums up their goal. You can see our quality of life and property values go out the window.
CJ April 05, 2013 at 05:57 PM
The NIMBY contingent is in full melt down. This thing must be a good idea then.
Gina April 05, 2013 at 06:08 PM
No thank you.
Valerie Sloven April 05, 2013 at 06:53 PM
I agree with CJ.
Chris Nicholson April 05, 2013 at 07:51 PM
Sounds like a neat project. Apart from commute/school rush hours, I think there is enough existing traffic capacity for something like this (few begin wine tasting at 8:00am). And dinner/theaters usually begin after school/work ends. Honestly, why would anyone oppose having something like this in our community?
Death and Taxes April 05, 2013 at 08:26 PM
Love it! Not sure how it would have SUCH a negative impact on traffic (from some comments is sounds like a new mall is being proposed). It is not a store or destination which would have daily/heavy traffic, but one which would occasionally have an increase in traffic when events occur.
c5 April 05, 2013 at 08:31 PM
I hope they have early morning discounts on tastings to even out the flow of customers... :) Sounds like an interesting project. I might check it out if the wine is ok. A lot closer than Napa/Sonoma.
Caroline April 05, 2013 at 08:46 PM
I thought we already had a performing arts center.
Jose April 05, 2013 at 09:12 PM
I like the proposal so far. I think the proposed usage works with existing traffic peak hours, but what about trucks? When I tour a winery, I see trucks. Trucks transport grapes and stems to be crushed/processed from other growing areas, and the waste products must be processed (composted? or used in feed?) somewhere. Such a small scale winery will not be entirely self-contained. What about truck traffic? Small seasonal impact? I apologize if all of this is explained on your website. I haven't gotten there yet...but I will. Interesting project. P.s. I just checked out the movie Bottle Shock from the library. That movie and Sideways are worth a look for any wine snobs who haven't seen them yet. Fun flicks.
Jose April 05, 2013 at 09:21 PM
Now, about those cows...Is is true that the white and black ones have evolved to graze clockwise around the hills while the black and white ones graze only counterclockwise, resulting in longer legs on the downhill side of each respective subspecies. That's what it looks like with binoculars. I hope Mr. Poynts can clarify if we have rarified cows on the property that might need the government's protection...
Charles Simkins April 05, 2013 at 09:22 PM
I have some experience in the winery business through investments. Does the developer understand the winery business? Unless he raises all the grapes on his land, he will need to bring bins of grapes to the site and that would be unacceptable from the standpoint of Orinda or Lafayette, much less Moraga. I know one winery which proposed such a development in Brentwood, which fell through for good reasons. This is a proposal which will not have much chance of success.
Jose April 05, 2013 at 09:55 PM
You bring up a good point, which I just made. What about truck traffic? Is it seasonal? How does it compare to daily truck deliveries to, say, Safeway and OSH in Moraga? As to how much say Orinda and Lafayette have in this matter, that is an interesting political question, but it all starts with whether Moraga wants this. I do, if all of these questions are honestly and openly addressed.
Chris Nicholson April 05, 2013 at 10:00 PM
I imagine the wine production component of the project is as much for ambience as for profit. As for truck traffic, I imagine it would be modest compared to say Safeway-- and similarly timed to avoid traffic. I think a few trucks of uncrushed grapes rolling by in the pre-traffic early mornings would be kinda cool, actually. Since you know the business a bit, how many truckloads of grapes would be needed for a very modest production (few thousand cases)? Can't be that many.
Jose April 05, 2013 at 10:03 PM
Do we really want just another subdivision of executive homes up there. I don't think so. Now, do I know the full implications of this development. No, not yet. I want to hear Mr. Poynts out and hear the counterarguments, like yours, but fleshed out in more detail. Why did the Brentwood proposal fail. Inexperience? Carpetbaggers? What? Mr. Poynts is not an outside developer, so that changes my perspective.
Chris Nicholson April 05, 2013 at 10:27 PM
What's an Executive Home? If you mean the kind of homes that yield much more tax revenue and many fewer school kids per acre then average, then I would think you/we WOULD absolutely want that. Why wouldn't we?
Jose April 05, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Settle! I'm on your side in this. As an established resident, I want fewer homes not more, of any kind. Moraga has a small college. Cool!. Moraga has a small winery. Cool! Moraga has more executives commuting to SF. Ok. If we must...
Jose April 05, 2013 at 10:40 PM
Is Chris right? Is the wine production going to be more about ambience than large-scale production? Probably. If so, how many trucks of grapes and stems as opposed to fewer trucks, carrying wine-quality juice to supplement the local harvest, with fewer byproducts to worry about?
Jose April 05, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Ok, now I am talking to myself, so I am going to go away for awhile. Check out the movie Sideways. "I am NOT drinking any f---ing merlot!!"
Roger Poynts April 05, 2013 at 11:20 PM
I appreciate all your comments. Concise communication is the best way to raise the comfort level adequately for all stakeholders in this project. I also think this type of exchange has been somewhat lacking in Moraga to date. I live in Moraga too, and I have a vested interest in the successful outcome of this project. Moraga has been stagnate too long.....it's time to improve our Town. A good start will be making this project a solid, productive asset that will make everyone proud. Traffic is always a subject of concern. However, the traffic impact from this project will be minimal. There’s only one grape harvest per year which occurs for a few weeks in the fall. That and all other truck traffic would occur at off-peak times....grapes growing on the hillside won't generate many vehicle trips per day. Also, the local vintners would generate less truck traffic because they wouldn’t have to truck their wine to warehouses in Berkeley, Alameda, etc. The could store all their finished product on-site in the Wine Caves. The 15 future homes may contribute 10-12 trips per day per unit. The park users would add a few cross-town trips as would visitors to the Winery and Hospitality Center. The only undetermined traffic impact is that from the Amphitheater on a per performance basis. Once the Town decides if it wants one (or not) and how many people it should seat, that can be quantified too. (Continued on next posting)
Roger Poynts April 05, 2013 at 11:22 PM
(Continued from previous posting) Also, think about how many vehicle trips per day actually occur from your residence....? In my case, we may generate a maximum of 4 or 5 trips per day including mail delivery.....but some days we don't generate any.....because we don't leave the house in a vehicle. Keep in mind the only real traffic issues we have in Moraga occur when school is in session during peak hours. Most of the traffic generated from the project will occur at off-peak times. For those of you who are interested in detail, follow the link on the project web page....."Proposed Project Detail" under the tab "Enhancing Moraga" This is a very low-impact project proposal where over 90% of the land will be left open. The zoning will remain open space so all agriculture uses approved by the Town will still be available to the future owners (including cow ranching if they so desire). This project will benefit Moragans for many generations to come. It will add much needed revenue to the Town's coffers without generating a negative impact on Town services. It's the right thing to do......it’s low impact.....it’s environmentally sound......it’s economically advantageous to all stakeholders. All constructive comments are welcome and please ask your friends and neighbors to share their thoughts. For answers to additional questions, contact me at: Roger Poynts (925) 323-4381 poynts@udi-tetrad.com
Chris F. April 06, 2013 at 05:20 PM
When I was young I asked my Grandma about the painted rock and she told me that before the painting she and Pop William's use to sit up on the rock overlooking their property before every spring and talk about what they were going to plant in their gardens. A vineyard sounds like it would be wonderful addition to Rheem Valley!
Kyle Mathews April 06, 2013 at 09:15 PM
I like the vineyard idea, but making the painted rock a tourist attraction is bizarre to me. I would rather see some of the old orchard turned into a vineyard rather than being torn up for home sites. Also, having worked out in Moraga/Orinda as a lifeguard at MVP while in college, I had to commute from Lafayette on those terribly small roads. Getting to Moraga really is no easy feat and traffic is already bad. It will only get worse if they start making Moraga a tourist destination. I hope they can expand the road system without extending the freeway.
Kyle Mathews April 06, 2013 at 09:19 PM
Here's an idea: is it possible for the developer to partner with other local landowners who have small vineyards and then produce wine from the other vineyards? This would be an interesting collaborative, local business venture and the other landowners would essentially act as investors in the larger project. Just a thought.
LamorWASP April 07, 2013 at 11:43 PM
Who would drive all the way out to Moraga?
Napoleon Solo April 08, 2013 at 06:07 PM
In my work this would be called a "barbell" situation where the observations are at the extremes. So we will have a high end winery facing off against a TJMaxx and Dollar Tree across the street. This place gets stranger every day.
Dean Anthony Tanti April 10, 2013 at 02:45 AM
I think its a great idea! It will bring back the MOR in laMORinda! I hope this passes the town council vote!
LafayetteJosh April 10, 2013 at 03:50 AM
As a Lafayette resident who is (still) gainfully employed in the music industry, I was initially excited about the prospect of a winery and performing arts center. That said, as we also live near St. Mary's Road, I have a lot of concerns about the increased traffic on days of concerts at the arts center. Assuming this is a venue with seating for at least a few thousand people, then I just don't see how this wouldn't cause serious traffic issues on St. Mary's, Rheem and Moraga roads. Any time I've been to an outdoor venue that has brought "name" artists, there has always been at least several minutes of traffic on days of concerts and I honestly can't see how it would be possible to avoid it in this case. In fact, given the lack of highways nearby, I think the traffic would be potentially worse than at other outdoor performance centers. Bottom line: I love the idea of concerts in my neighborhood....but at the end of the day, if it is going to result in more traffic (it's bad enough that 50% of cars don't seem to stop at the crossing sign in front of the Lafayette Community Center), then I am going to remain opposed to the development of at least the performance center. If it is a standalone winery with no performance center, then I don't have any issues with it.
Chris F. April 10, 2013 at 05:15 PM
"bah humbug" If there is a problem at the cross walk at the Lafayette Community Center then it is time for a stoplight. Many of the winery amphitheaters that I know of have capacities between 1,500 and 2,500. The Mt. Winery in Saratoga (2,500 cap) has no nearby highways and has only one main road from downtown Saratoga through a "bedroom community". Even at 2,500 capacity venue it would not a significant amount of traffic through the four corridors leading into Moraga especially if ticketing were done on a local sales basis where LaMorindian's had a priority purchase. I think a winery venue would be a wonderful addition to our LaMorinda community and would be able to ensure others could be gainfully employed in the events industry, It would also be nice boost for all the restaurants and stores throughout our three cities..
El Cucuy April 10, 2013 at 06:07 PM
As for any traffic concerns, I would imagine that amphitheater events at the proposed site wouldn't be any worse than a basketball game at St. Mary's. The bigger problem would probably be NIMBYs objecting to any amplified noise (or would there just be acoustic jamz there?) -- a la Moraga Commons. In other NIMBY news, where on this site can I complain about the proposed BMX park in Lafayette Community Park? Patch is missing out on some sure-fire page hits!
Napoleon Solo April 10, 2013 at 06:35 PM
EC: If you use the search function and type in BMX there are a lot of old articles. The latest one, however, is if you search for "bulldoze" and the first one called "Pic of the Day" discusses it.

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