Business / Economy

County Planning Commission approves Suncoast Organic Farm expansion

New operations to include beer and wine tasting, beer garden and special events.
Sign near the entrance. Photo by Noe Magaña.
Sign near the entrance. Photo by Noe Magaña.

The San Benito County Planning Commission unanimously approved a use permit for Suncoast Organic farm on Feb. 19 that will allow the business to expand from baked goods and sandwiches to beer, wine and special events. The proposed project would add brew production and a beer garden to the location at 6310 Southside Road; maximum occupancy would increase from 50 to 120 people.

Assistant county planner Arielle Goodspeed said the project is planned in four phases, with the first phase set to start immediately:

  1. Startup brew production and distribution in the pole barn located to the right of the bakery. Includes ADA improvements.
  2. Construction of a beer garden, two unisex restrooms, a taproom for beer and wine, and paving the access approach at the south exit. This phase will increase the occupancy limit by 10 people and is scheduled to start within one year.
  3. Restoration of the storage shed gift shop, construction of a carport to store farm equipment and installation of solar roofs. There’s also a requirement for the bakery to provide 43 additional parking spots. This phase is scheduled to begin within two years and would allow Suncoast Organic Farm to host events for up to 100 people. Large events require the bakery and brewery to be closed, and can only occur Thursdays through Sundays.
  4. Construction of a 1,169-square-foot brewhouse, moving the brewery pole barn operations into a restored walnut drying barn, and expansion of the commercial kitchen area. This final phase is dependent on the success of the expansion and is scheduled to occur in the next five to 10 years.

After discussing a condition that required amplified music to be capped at 6 p.m. from November to April, and 8 p.m. from May to October, the board decided to remove it to be consistent with the County Code that allows amplified music until 10 p.m. year-round. Goodspeed said the condition was a result of discussions between the county, neighbors and applicants.

Neighbors Raymond Creech and Jerry Schockmel said they were concerned about intrusive sounds. Creech also said he was notified of the project one week before the Feb. 19 planning commission meeting and only had one day to review the 13-page report. He requested more time to review the project. 

“There are eight neighbors in the immediate area around that and we’re extremely concerned about the amplified music part of it,” Creech said. 

Schockmel voiced concern about road conditions with the proposed large events that could more than double existing occupancy.

Suncoast Organic Farm owners Lisa and David Jensen received words of support from customers and friends at the meeting, who cited the economic benefit to the county and the relationships the owners have forged with neighbors and customers. 

“You’re dealing with good people here,” resident Kevin Stopper said. “I know whatever comes of the decision from the Planning Commission you’re going to be working with good people and they’re going to do what they have to do with their neighbors as well as their business.”

 

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Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.