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Judge says Pasolivo barn may fall 

The iconic centerpiece that brought rural neighbors together to oppose the expansion of an olive oil facility will soon be dismantled.

A judge ruled on Aug. 4 that the red barn standing on the property of Pasolivo, an olive oil company on Vineyard Drive in the Adelaide area west of Paso Robles and Templeton, may be demolished. San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Ginger Garrett gave the green light to Pasolivo after denying an injunction filed by the neighborhood group Save Adelaida and two neighbors, Wilton and Helen Webster. The injunction argued that the barn was of historic value, and that the project should be required to conduct further studies and draft an environmental impact report before continuing construction.

The legal challenge was part of efforts by residents to stop or slow Pasolivo’s expansion plans, which includes the addition of two new buildings and the barn’s replacement in order to support increased olive oil production, sales, and tasting. The company also plans to host 20 on-site events a year with up to 200 people and to process off-site olives. The SLO County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a permit for the expansion on July 7.

The project went to the board after neighboring residents appealed the planning department’s initial approval, taking issue specifically with the events, which would include weddings, and the loss of the barn, a relic from the area’s dairy producing days. Neighbors argued that the events would bring more noise and traffic to the agricultural and rural setting, which they say is already burdened with heavy weekend use stemming from wine tasting and similar events.

Pasolivo was purchased as an investment in 2012 by the Southern California-based Dirk family. Since the purchase, the family has restored the property and plans to expand the company’s business.

Pasolivo General Manager Hillary Trout told New Times that for these expansion plans to be possible, the company needs to add facilities and replace the barn, which is too dilapidated to function for processing, tasting, or storage.

Different opinions have been raised over the barn—for the owners of Pasolivo, it’s a necessary casualty of growth and progress; for many of the residents in the area, it’s a symbol for the loss of the area’s true rural character.

The judge’s ruling weighed the nexus of two factors—the likeliness that the entire project would prevail if challenged in court, and what losses the demolition and its delay would mean for both parties. The judge found that that the Board of Supervisors’ approval of the project was based on solid findings that the barn did not have historic value, and if its demolition was delayed, Pasolivo would suffer from significant financial loss.

Owner David Dirk said that the company would experience $1 million in losses if more delays occurred and that the barn’s demolition and ensuing construction was an urgent matter that needed to be completed before fall olive harvest.

In response to the Aug. 4 ruling, the Dirk family gave New Times the following statement: “The court’s decision is consistent with the Board of Supervisors 5-0 vote to approve our project. With the court’s decision we can now move forward with this much-needed expansion to continue meeting the needs of our customers and the industry. We are excited to upgrade our property and facilities to make Pasolivo an even better place for not only our visitors, but for our employees and community as well.”

-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay

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