Wineries Oppose Move of Auto Wrecking Yard
Wapato, WA - Several lower valley wineries are upset with Yakima County.
They say plans are in the works to move an auto wrecking yard near the Yakima Valley Highway, the main thoroughfare through wine country.
County Commissioners have been trying to move a wrecking yard owned by Douglas Towing for years.
It's just off exit 44, near the interstate.
They say it poses an environmental hazard to the Yakima River.
Twice in the last eleven years, the yard has been flooded.
Abandoned vehicles and old tires whisked away into the river.
"To me being, in Napa or the Sonoma Valleys, this wouldn't even be an issue," says Liz Stepniewski, owner and winemaker at Windy Point.
The issue for Stepniewski is that Yakima County Commissioners plan to move this auto wrecking yard less than a mile away from her winery.
"We were basically told this was a done deal," says Mike Libbee, who handles marketing and sales for several wineries.
He says they first learned about plans to move the wrecking yard a week ago, but the county had been discussing it for three years. Only residents who lived within 600 feet of the 10-acre lot were informed.
"If we get enough concerned citizens to raise their voices, hopefully, county commissioners can take another look at this," says Libbee.
Quentin Douglas owns the auto wrecking yard. He says that county commissioners did not have many options. This new location is zoned for an auto wrecking yard and he could not move too far away from his current location since law enforcement in the area counts on him to pick up abandoned vehicles.
Regarding this issue, Yakima County Commissioner Mike Leita has stated that the Yakima Valley Highway is for all citizens, not exclusive to wine tourism. And other legal land-use businesses shall continue to have the right to use it.