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Winery Gets Pressed by Church, Wins Approval from St. Charles County

Augusta Winery signs contract, agrees to stipulations made by church council to locate across Highway 94 from 160-year-old building.

The Augusta Winery owners received unanimous approval Monday from the St. Charles County Council for its conditional use permit to relocated their winery to the corner of Highway 94 and Highway T.

The winery would go in across Highway 94 from Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. During the April 11 County Council meeting, several people expressed concerns about locating the winery across from the 160-year-old church.

“After our meeting on the 11th, we sat down with church parishioners and the church council on two occasions,” Tony Kooyumjian, co-owner of the winery, told the council Monday.

Kooyumjian said he went over all the concerns they presented and agreed to

“This afternoon, I signed a contract with the church council and the (St. Louis) Archdiocese,” Kooyumjian told the council. “I believe we’ve done everything we could to reach out to the church and people of the area.

However, three people from the area spoke against the winery. Kathleen Wood said she owns 250 acres that overlook the area.

“I can see the church steeple, I see Highway 94 winding its way through the hills,” she said.

Wood said that building a winery would hurt the scenic nature of the area.

Council Chairman Joe Brazil, R-District 2, of Defiance, said he met with the Kooyumjians and the church council, and believed the winery owners worked to alleviate any problems.

“When I walked out of the church, people came up to me and asked, ‘What about this and this?’” Brazil said.

He said it’s not fair to negotiate with someone in good faith and turn around and add more things on them.

After the meeting, Martin Struckhoff, an Immaculate Conception Church parishioner who opposed the winery’s location, said there was no discussion of moving the winery building to the back of the Highway 94 property. Struckhoff said that is one way the winery could have greatly minimized its impact on Immaculate Conception.

“I was told by Mr. Kooyumjian that it was non-negotiable,” Struckhoff said.

Kooyumjian said it’s important for his business that motorists can see the building from Highway 94.

“Otherwise, what’s the point of locating on Highway 94?” he asked.

One of the stipulations is that Kooyumjian will pay for signs for the church lot stating that parking there is for church use only, if it becomes necessary.

The Kooyumjians agreed to build a berm and plant white pine trees that will block the area where music will be played and guests will sit outdoors.

“I think they’ll be very pleased and in time they’ll see how much we respect the church,” said Cindy Kooyumjian, Tony’s wife and winery co-owner.

The Kooyumjians also are Immaculate Conception parishioners.

The county still must approve the winery’s site plan, said Wayne Anthony, the county’s community development director.

Anthony reported that a MoDOT’s District 3 report said an entrance-exit onto Highway 94 does not meet their specifications. He said he is waiting on  a similar report from MoDOT’s District 6 regarding an exit on Highway T.

However, Anthony said MoDOT could still approve an exit onto Highway 94 by requiring Kooyumjian to meet certain conditions.

Two different MoDOT districts are responsible for the area, as the property straddles the districts’ border.

Kooyumjian said if all goes well with MoDOT, he will next get a site plan designed by an architect. He plans to have the winery operational sometime in 2012, but that 2013 is a possibility.

Win, WIN for all parties involved. It is wonderful to see two sides on total opposites and opposing views, sit down at the table and civilly talk about each others stance, compromise and hammer out an agreeable development. That is what being a neighbor is all about. Talking it out and compromising on all issues! Congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Koouumjian and the entire Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. This is so awesome and the way in which each and every issue that has conflict shall be dealt with. Talking it all out and coming to a consensus. Win/Win!

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