Napa County's highest governing board gave its blessing to an environmental document assessing the proposed Napa Pipe development, moving the project forward after a five-hour public hearing at the Napa Valley Opera House Monday.
The Napa County Board of Supervisors delayed a vote on other decisions that would usher the project forward, to allow time for further talk with the city on issues such as how police and fire services would be provided, water and possible annexation of the land into the city.
Before the supervisors voted, they fielded comments from about 60 Napa County residents urging approval of the project or voicing concerns about its potential impacts.
It was the board's first public look at the proposed development, although the project has gone through studies, hearings and workshops since it was originally proposed in 2007.
Napa Redevelopment Partners, helmed by Carneros Inn developer Keith Rogal, is asking to build 700 to 945 homes on an industrial area south of Napa and to the east of the Napa River. The plan includes a school, hotel, retail space and most recently, a Costco.
The supervisors are the final gatekeepers to the project's approval, although Napa city officials hold a hand in moving it forward. The proposal calls for the city to provide water and other services for the project. There have been suggestions that the land could ultimately be annexed into the city.
City and county officials have reached a stalemate in their conversations, however, with city officials questioning the details of its proposed role.
Meanwhile, the developers are tiring, saying they have strived to adapt the project after input from citizens and government officials along the five-year process.
"We have reached the point at which we need to move forward with the development ... or take no for an answer and move on," said developer Keith Rogal.
Some commenters supported the idea of bringing Costco Napa Pipe, saving them trips and keeping sales tax dollars at home. Others who spoke vied for more affordable housing.
Project opponents feared Napa Pipe would have negative impacts on traffic, water and increase flood risk. Here are some of the comments aired before the board:
- Napa resident Janet Mendelsohn said Napa Pipe is a poor fit for Napa's entryway: "I see you as our last hope for preserving what so many people love about this valley," she told the supervisors.
- Carol Caie, who moved to Napa two years ago, said Napa Pipe would be an improvement to the existing industrial landscape. "It's an eyesore, and I don't understand how it can be left that way for so long when the rest of the valley is so absolutely beautiful," she said.
- Longtime Napa land-use activist Ginny Simms said approving the project would be like giving the developer a "blank check." Despite sacrifices the county would make in higher traffic, she worries it would not result in housing for the county's low and very low income residents. "The words are wandering and not exactly a guarantee, she said of developer promises.
- Longtime Napa resident Ralph Price urged the supervisors to "put shovels in the ground" after the many years the project has been under consideration, saying Napa Pipe will bring financial stability for the county, use less water than the current industrial site and decrease traffic.
County supervisors expressed support for the general idea of the project, but had a few concerns about some of its details.
One of the Napa Pipe's biggest stumbling blocks has been how it would get the water needed for all the proposed site's uses.
Supervisor Keith Caldwell said the county has a long-standing policy not to use groundwater for urban projects. The current proposal includes a clause that would allow it to tap groundwater in certain drought conditions.
Supervisor Mark Luce said he supports an alternate proposal that would rezone 20 acres of the land for development instead. Developers said they wouldn't pursue the project if that was the option the board selected.
In addition to approving the environmental document Monday, supervisors scheduled another hearing for Feb. 5, when staff will come back with answers to some of their questions.
They also set a future meeting for May 14. This will allow 120 days to iron out further negotiations between the city, county and the developer before supervisors consider how they will rezone the property for development.
- County Supervisors Approve Napa Pipe Environmental Impact Report
- Napa Pipe: Yes or No?
- Michael Haley: Napa Pipe Comment for January 14 meeting of the Board of Supervisors
- What Really Happened at the Napa Pipe Meeting?
- Letter: "Napa Pipe is Bad for Students"
- County Holds Hearings on Napa Pipe
- Comment Period Extended on Napa Pipe Report
- Luce “Happy" to Keep Napa Pipe Industrial
- New Napa Pipe Hearings Set
- Where Do You Stand on Napa Pipe?
- How Big Should Napa Pipe Be?
- Was Law Broken at Napa Pipe Meeting?
- Many Voices Expected at Napa Pipe Hearing
- Napa Pipe Vote Postponed
- Napa Pipe Plan Divides County Planners
- Napa Pipe Hearings Canceled as Developers Revise Proposal
- Napa Pipe Returns to Planning Commission
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