[sent to Planning Commissioners, Directors McDowell and Morrison]
Commissioners and Directors,
I've already submitted a couple of letters on this project. My apologies for yet another.
Girard Draft Finding #10:
"The project complies with the requirements of the Winery Definition Ordinance (Ord. No. 947, 1990)"
Ord. No. 947,1990 Finding of Fact #1e:
"Napa County is one of the smallest counties in California and within the County areas suitable for quality vineyards are limited and irreplaceable. Any project that directly or indirectly results in the removal of existing or potential vineyard land from use depletes the inventory of such land forever. "
Given the surfeit of wine processing capacity in the county, and given development-driven traffic congestion that all find onerous already, and given the amount of up-valley development already in the works but not yet built, and given a history of use permit violations in which this developer has engaged (until recently?), if Napa County can't find the will and the means to protect this one pristine rectangle of arable valley land then the cause of protecting the totality of agriculture in the county is doomed. Development projects built to cater to an ever expanding tourist economy will just keep coming until the entire valley floor is a tourism business park, and the increasing clout of tourism entrepreneurs will move the WDO and the General Plan toward ever more expansion into the vineyards until they are little more than garnish around the parking lots.
This developer already has a facility to process the grapes from this parcel (one with few county impacts). This developer already has a facility to process tourists, adjacent to this parcel (one with an excess of county impacts). It is time for the planning commission to take a meaningful stand on agricultural protection and use its discretion to uphold the original intent of the agricultural preserve (and the real definition of agriculture) by denying this project.
I would also ask that you consider a moratorium on the review of all such projects to provide the time needed for the county and the municipalities to explore the long term impacts of tourism development, particularly in view of the county's intention, in the words of its General Plan, "to preserve the economic viability of agriculture and ensure that tourism and other industries do not compete with agriculture".
Thank you again for this opportunity to voice my concerns.