WASHINGTON — A proposed winery moved one step closer to reality Monday.
The City Council voted 5-1 to annex nearly 52 acres of farmland at 1774 E. Cruger Road into Washington and zone it for agricultural use.
Bob and Lisa Barry purchased 50.6 acres of the farmland from the city for $219,000 in June. The remaining section was purchased from an adjacent property owner.
The Barry's requested the annexation and want to construct Tres Rojas Winery on the parcel.
"The annexation is in the city's land sale agreement with the Barrys. I see no reason to change course and reject the annexation. It would be a mistake," said Alderman Brian Butler.
Aldeman Lilija Stevens cast the lone no vote on the annexation, saying she preferred the farmland stayed in Tazewell County and still became the site of the winery.
Speakers in favor of and against the annexation and winery spoke to the City Council at recent meetings.
Proponents of the winery said it would be a beneficial addition to the city because it would attract visitors from near and far and add property and tax sales revenue to the city's coffers.
Opponents of the winery said they're concerned about traffic flow on narrow East Cruger Road and the cost to the city of providing police protection in an area in the far eastern reaches of Washington.
They also think the city could have gotten more money for the farmland had it been sold to a farming business.
The Barry's have requested a special-use designation for their winery.
The Planning and Zoning Commission will discuss the Barry's special-use request Wednesday and make a recommendation to the City Council.
Aldermen Randall Black and Mike Brownfield did not attend Monday's meeting.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.