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Galileo 33 winery plan OK’d by P&Z


Old Town Cottonwood is one step closer to seeing the ambitious Galileo 33 built.

On June 19 the city of Cottonwood Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a general plan amendment to change land use classifications for the project site from medium density residential and general commercial to planned development.

In addition, the commission rezoned one parcel from single family residential and light commercial to planned area development and the other parcel from light commercial to planned area development.

With the approvals, Galileo 33’s prospective buyers are set to purchase the two parcels of hillside property, one of which houses the vacant Masonic Lodge, at 770 N. Verde Heights Drive and 75 W. Pima Street, and construct a 6,500-square-foot winery, restaurant and tasting room.

The seven-acre property will also include approximately five acres of terraced vineyard with walking paths. The majority of the board expressed reservations about the project’s design, which combines modern and industrial elements that Commissioner Robert Hart noted were aesthetically pleasing but in his opinion out of place in Old Town.

Chairman Ed Kiyler reminded the commission that the design review would come at a later date and asked that commissioners not direct questions about design features to Brian Farling. Farling is an architect with Tempe-based Jones Studio, the firm working on the design.

“I’m very excited that Jones Studio might be doing a project in Cottonwood,” Commissioner Suzanne Poslaiko said, citing the firm’s reputation and history of award-winning design. “It’s something that’s essential and foreign at the same time,” Farling said, adding that Cottonwood has successfully marketed itself as one of Arizona’s premier winemaking regions but has yet to place anything so ambitious related to the industry within its borders.

Nonetheless, Farling said the prospective owners, who have managed a combined 100 acres of vineyard for a decade, want to build upon momentum in Old Town and “create an amenity” that locals and tourists can enjoy.

According to Farling, the grape growing and harvesting operation is unobtrusive, quiet, managed with little machinery — and most of that electric. Galileo 33 will also allow for managed water use, Farling said.

The property will be landscaped to collect water into underground tanks. The building itself will collect water from the roof and store it in a separate tank.

Four members of the public, residents of the Verde Heights neighborhood, expressed reservations about the project, citing traffic and environmental concerns. Carmen Smith said traffic is already bad in the neighborhood and would become worse with the addition of a large facility and vineyard.

“As a resident who lives up just around the corner ... I hope you do not do this,” she said. Among members of the public offering comment, Eric Jurisin of the Haunted Restaurant Group praised the project. Jurisin owns the Tavern Hotel, which sits adjacent to the proposed Galileo 33.

“This property is currently nothing but an eyesore [and Galileo 33] is a low-impact use,” he said. “I think it’s a win-win for everyone concerned.” Kiyler agreed with Jurisin, saying the abandoned masonic lodge currently “sitting up on the hill is just a monstrosity [and] something needs to be done with it.”

Commissioner Thomas Narwid, who expressed reservations about the design of the facility, said he was in favor of the project and that “it’s heading in the very right direction.”

“It’s a good solution for the area,” Commissioner Robert Hart said. The final approval of the minor amendment and zoning changes is pending City Council approval.

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