Promoter Chris Ricci rescues Riverbank Cheese & Wine Exposition

Modesto Bee

Chris Ricci, a premier special-events promoter, will run this October’s Riverbank Cheese & Wine Exposition and is scheduled to present a status report at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Ricci knows how to throw huge street parties. The Fat Cat Music House & Lounge promoter created and continues to lead the Xclamation! Festival, or X Fest, expected next month to bring upward of 20,000 music fans to downtown Modesto for its 15th year.

Previous Cheese & Wine festivals drew tens of thousands of people to Riverbank, but service clubs sponsoring the event burned out. City leaders a few months ago vowed not to let the city’s signature event die, and hired Chris Ricci Presents Inc. to work its magic.

The festival is scheduled Oct. 11-12. For more information, see www.riverbankcheeseandwine.org.

Also Tuesday, council members will consider criteria for creating districts for future council elections and could significantly change fees charged by the planning department.

The council two weeks ago decided to ask voters in November to change at-large elections to district elections, where council members would represent a few neighborhoods instead of being elected by voters throughout the city. The council deployed a consultant to propose how to split Riverbank into multiple districts.

Tuesday’s action formalizes the process with rules calling for districts with equal populations and common interests. Although the change is prompted by a desire to help minority candidates, proposed districts cannot be based on race.

A list of new planning fees, which haven’t been changed since September 2008, would require a $4,000 deposit for proposing an annexation, up from the current $810 charge, and other tasks would increase similarly. That should help City Hall recover its costs for processing applications, a report says.

Administrators also recommend that the council turn down Yuriy Smolinskiy’s request to build a gym and sauna next to a home on Alton Court. A neighbor opposed the project, and planning commissioners in May rejected the application, saying accessory buildings must not exceed 20 percent of the original home, while Smolinskiy’s would add more than 37 percent.

Tuesday’s council meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the council chamber at 6707 Third St. For more information, see bit.ly/1p3Nc50.