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Thu, Nov. 14

Jerome favors winery license
Operation must pass zoning test

Maynard Keenan

Maynard Keenan

Rock star Maynard James Keenan got a recommendation from the Jerome Town Council Tuesday night for the Arizona Liquor Commission to approve his application for a Series 13 Domestic Farm Winery License. But before Keenan's small operation can start making wine, Jeanne Trupaino, the town's zoning administrator, will have to make a decision about how to classify the proposed business.

The Planning & Zoning Commission may also eventually weigh in on the matter. The main question is whether the winery should be classified as a "home occupation" or as a commercial operation.

Keenan, lead singer for popular rock bands Tool and A Perfect Circle, has owned a home in Jerome for more than a decade. He is currently involved in a small winery operation in Page Springs and wants to start an even smaller home winery in Jerome on Dundee Lane.

Some of Keenan's Dundee neighbors spoke to the council about the winery. His neighbors like him, but not all of them are sure they like the idea of the winery.

About half the people who spoke said they really like the idea of the winery, but others feel the town must first deal with how the winery is classified under the town code. Even some of the people objecting to the liquor license said they would love to see Keenan open the winery but feel the town must first change the ordinance.

"We shouldn't break the law," said councilman-elect Lew Currier. He said he likes the idea of the winery and wants it in town. But he feels the business should be classified as commercial, otherwise, the town will be setting a precedent.

Dundee resident Lisa Whitacre said she was worried about traffic on the street. She also said the matter should go to planning and zoning first. "It's not within the town code," Whitacre said.

But that isn't clear. If the winery were classified as a home occupation, in the same manner that an artist working out of his or her home would be, then P&Z wouldn't be involved.

Keenan and his representatives feel the winery would clearly be a home occupation. Connie Dedrick, project coordinator for Shephard-Wesnitzer, Inc., said the winery would not create any more traffic than an occasional United Parcel Service delivery truck. The wine is to be made, apparently in small quantities, and shipped to Phoenix. No retail sales would take place at Keenan's residence.

"Is it a home occupation, or is it commercial?" asked Mayor Bob Bouwman.

"That is a question for your zoning administrator," said town attorney Phyllis Smiley. "There is a process for this to move forward."

Trupaino said she needs to refer to the zoning ordinance. "The home is residential," she said.

But the property apparently straddles two zoning areas, and the vineyard is in an area zoned for agriculture.

Smiley said the liquor application and the zoning classification are two separate issues. She said that the only thing on the agenda for Tuesday night was whether to recommend approval of Keenan's liquor license application.

"We're trying to pick this apart when it doesn't need to be picked apart," Smiley said. "They still must comply with zoning codes."

Councilwoman Rebekah Kennedy made a motion to recommend approval of the license application.

The motion passed unanimously.

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