|Mar 17, 2014|
"To insure that the intensity of winery activities is appropriately scaled, the County considers the remoteness of the location and the amount of wine to be produced at a facility when reviewing use permit proposals, and endeavors to ensure a direct relationship between access constraints and on-site marketing and visitation programs"
- Napa County Winery Definition Ordinance (item III here)
33,000 sf of caves
6 miles up a winding dead-end road
Mountain Peak Winery
[Note: On November 8, 2022 the Napa County Board of Supervisors revoked the use permit for the Mountain Peak Winery, hopefully ending the project after almost 9 years of opposition from the Soda Canyon community and beyond.]
The Proposed Mountain Peak Winery is to be located on the former Jan Krupp residence at 3265 Soda Canyon Road. The Use Permit was approved by the Planning Commission on Jan 4th, 2017, and the approval upheld by the Supervisors on Aug 22nd, 2017. A suit against the County to compel an EIR for the project was filed by neighbors Sep 20, 2017. The lawsuit is ongoing.
The project is for a 100,000 gal/yr winery, 33,400 sf of caves, 28 parking spaces, 19 full-time employees, above ground 8000 sf tasting room for 275 visitors/wk, plus 2 - 75 person and 1 - 125 person events/yr. The total amounts to 21510 tourist/employee users on the site each year (ave 59 each day), and 120 vehicle trips (60 up, 60 down) the road each day.
The issues raised by the project include the increased traffic that it will bring to an already dangerous road, insufficient consideration of fire danger on a dead-end road, the environmental danger of moving millions of cubic feet of earth within feet of two blue line creeks, a lack biologic resource analysis, insufficient and inaccurate analysis of groundwater extraction, and a disputed analysis of noise impacts.
For those of us who live on the road, the introduction of daily commercial activity that the winery will bring will be a quantum change to the remote and quiet sense of isolation that has made this place so special in an urbanizing world. And it will set a substantial precedent for further major tourism commercialization of our community and of the other remote areas throughout the county. The increased traffic of daily outside visitors will mean the death of a unique rural existence treasured by residents throughout the county, a quality of life worth fighting to retain.
Timeline of events since 7/20/16 Planning Commission approval
Update 12/6/22: The final Writ
The County has submitted their Revocation of the Mountain Peak Use Permit to the Napa Superior Court.
Update 11/2/22: BOS to Revoke Mountain Peak Use Permit
The judgment by Napa Superior Court was to set aside the approval of the use permit and require an EIR on the project. The court has compelled the county to respond to the decision with an action. The owner has decided not to pursue the project any further. The BOS has scheduled an agenda item on 11/8/22 to revoke the use permit.
10/3/22 County receipt of command and scheduled consideration of action
8/3/22 Court Entry of Judgment
7/29/22 Court Command to return project to county
Update 8/15/22: Mountain Peak Property put up for sale
As the negotiations over the next step in the saga continue to take place between appellant and applicant, a bit of potential info about how things are going became public: The Mountain Peak property has been listed for sale on Zillow and Realtor.com and elsewhere. In photos the cypress-lined driveway and home, both to be wiped out by the project, were featured selling points which was a hopeful sign. The high $19,995,000 price seems quite unrealistic, so it is difficult to say how serious the intent to sell is.
Update 3/23/22: Project returned to County for EIR
Napa Superior Court ruled that the County must
Update 1/21/22: CEQA lawsuit in Court
Following the re-denial of the SCG appeal at the remand hearing regarding specifically new fire evidence project, Soda Canyon Group presented their principal challenge to the appeal denial on Januray 20, 2022 in Napa Superior Court. Based on conflicting expert testimony, they sought a more thorough Environmental Impact Report to be made on the project beyond the County's in-house finding that the project will have less-than-significant impacts to the community and the environment. On the basis to pre-court submittals, the judge had already drafted a tentative ruling in favor of returning the project to the county to produce an EIR on the project.
Location: Napa Superior Court, 825 Brown St, Napa
Judge: Hon. Cynthia Smith (Department A)
Protect Rural Napa email announcement of hearing
Napa Vision 2050 email announcement or hearing
SCG brief to Court after BOS Remand hearing
MPV/County Response to SCG Brief
Supplemental SCG brief
MPV/County response to Supplemental SCG brief
Update 7/13/21: Finalization of BOS Remand Hearing decision
Update 5/18/21: Re-approval of project at BOS Remand Hearing
At the 5/18/21 Remand Hearing, after hearing a 20 minute presentation of evidence of the Fire, and after the testamony of witness experiences during the fire, the Supervisors voted 3-2 to uphold their initial approval of the project. Supervisors Pedroza, Gregory and Wagenknecht voted to re-approve and Supervisors Dillon and Ramos voted to deny the project. No visitation on red flag days will be added to Conditions of Approval. Supervisors will certify their re-approval on 7/11/21.
BOS 5/18/21 meeting video (Remand hearing begins at 3:24:30 on the video)
SCG Powerpoint Remand Presentation
SCR recap of the hearing
Update 5/01/21: Remand Hearing at the BOS
The BOS has scheduled a hearing on May 18, 2021 to address the remand of the project by Napa Superior Court in light of the new evidence of the 2017 Atlas Fire.Pertinant documents for the hearing:
Notice of Remand Hearing
Napa County Superior Court Remand Order
(Harrowing) Fire wItness declarations and fire documentaton
Public Works signoff memo on remand
Fire Dept signoff on remand
PBES Engineering signoff on service entrance road
Final (8/22/17) Conditions of Approval of project
Update 6/16/20: Appellate Court again dismisses appeal of Remand to BOS
The third appeal by MPV of the Superior Court Judge's 2019 Remand of the project to the BOS for consideration of the fire evidence from the Atlas FIre has again been dismissed. Oral arguments about this appeal had been scheduled before the Appellate Court dismissal. Both MPV and SCG have waived participation in oral arguments. The BOS must now schedule a re-hearing of the Mountain Peak project to include the evidence of the Atlas Fire in making their decision. Once that hearing has concluded, the remainder of the CEQA challenge to the project may proceed in Superior Court.
Update 10/03/19: MPV files 2nd appeal of Remand which is again dismissed
On 8/16/19 the owners of Mountain Peak and the County again appealed the remand of the case back to the supervisors and again, on 10/3/19, the appeal was denied.
2nd appeal Writ of Mandate by MPV
2nd appeal Writ of Mandate by County
SCG motion to dismiss appeal
SGR attorney declaration in support of motion to dismiss
MPV opposition to motion to dismiss
Dismissal of MPV 2nd appeal
Dismissal of County 2nd appeal
Update 6/18/19: Court remands Mountain Peak project back to Supervisors
The Napa Superior Court has reaffirmed its decision to remand the Mountain Peak project back to the supervisors to consider the new evidence that contradicts their finding in approving the project that Soda Canyon Road has the capacity to allow evacuation and emergency response in the event of a fire. In the Atlas fire it did not. The remand order must be presented by County Council to the Supervisors no later than July 8 2019 after which the Supervisors will set a public hearing date to consider the remanded issues. A status hearing on the case in Superior Court will occur on Aug 21 2019.
Update 4/23/19: Scope of Fire evidence in the remand
Following the unsuccessful attempt by MPV in the First District Appellate Court to contest the Superior Court's remand to the Supervisors, the case returns to Napa Superior Court to decide the scope of fire evidence to be remanded. MPV is still contending that none of the evidence should be heard. The hearing to determine the scope of the evidence will be heard on May 7, 2019, 8:30am, Napa Superior Court, Dept C, Napa County Historical Courthouse, 825 Brown Street, Napa.
Documents submitted for this hearing:
SCG (residents) opening brief
MPV (developer) opening brief
SRG response to MPV opening brief
MPV response to SRG opening brief
Update 4/16/19: Appeal of Remand denied
The County's appeal of the remand was denied by the First District Appellate Court. The Supervisors will have to reconsider the new evidence of the fire in their approval of the Mountain Peak project.
First Appellate District Court's denial of the appeal
Update 3/28/19: County Appeal of Remand
On Mar 28, 2019 Mountain Peak and Napa County filed a Writ of Mandate with the 1st District Court of California to overturn the Napa Superior Court's remand of the Mountain Peak project back to the Supervisors for consideration of evidence from the Atlas Peak Fire.
Exhibits Vol 1
Exhibits Vol 2
Exhibits Vol 3 (Fire Witness Declarations)
Update 2/27/19: Remand of Atlas Fire evidence
On Feb 1, 2019 Napa Superior Court ruled that some documents requested by the Soda Canyon Group for inclusion in the administrative record after the Planning Commission approval could not be included, but also ruled that the evidence of the 2017 fire, significant evidence unknown at the time of the Supervisors hearing, be remanded to the Board of Supervisors for their reconsideration.
The hearing on the main case [Writ of Mandate], previously scheduled for Mar 7 2019, will be postponed.
Update 1/16/19: New court dates have been assigned
The hearing for Mountain Peak has been split into two days. Both hearings will take place in Napa County Historic Courthouse, Dept C, 825 Brown St, Napa
Friday, February 1, 2019 at 8:30am: Court will hear the Motion to Augment i.e. whether the Atlas Fire evidence should be made part of the administrative record
Thursday, March 7, 2019 at 8:30am: Court will hear the primary/underlying arguments in our CEQA case i.e. the briefs pertaining to the Writ Petition. [postponed indefinitely following Remand issue on 2/1/19]
Update 12/25/18: Court Filings to date
Petition for Writ of Mandate in the lawsuit
County Opposition to Writ of Mandate
Petitioner's Reply to Opposition to Writ of Mandate
Petitioner's Opening Brief
Petitioner's Motion to Augment Administrative Record
County opposition to Motion to Augment Admin Record
Petitioner's Reply to Opposition to Motion to Augment
Arger Declaration of Support for Petitioners' Motion to Augment Admin Record with BOS Transcripts
County Motion to Strike portions of Arger Declaration
The Administrative Record (AR) - 17,500 pages of it
Order dividing hearing into 2 days
Update 9/16/18: Court date set for Mountain Peak lawsuit
Hearing Date for the Mountain Peak CEQA lawsuit has been set for January 11, 2019 in the Napa County Historic Courthouse. The resident petitioners, called the Soda Canyon Group in the lawsuit, have submitted their opening brief and requested an augmentation of the administrative record to include evidence related to the 2017 fire and other issues.
Update 9/20/17: Lawsuit Filed Against County
The appellants have filed a lawsuit against the County contending that the County abused its discretion by relying on a Negative Declaration in lieu of preparing a full Environmental Impact Report for the Project.
Update 8/22/17: Aug 22, 2017 BOS Appeal Finalization
The Board of Supervisors on May 23rd voted to deny the 4 appeals by residents to the Jan 4th. Planning Commission's approval of the Mountain Peak project. The Board recommended some changes to the conditions of approval to be added before finally signing off on the denial. The decision was finalized on Aug 22nd 2017.
Update 5/23/17: May 23, 2017 BOS Appeal
The Board of Supervisors (Sups. Pedroza, Wagenknecht, Gregory and Ramos) denied the 4 appeals brought against the Planning Commission approval. Our own supervisor, Sup. Pedroza, made the motions to deny. Sup. Dillon was absent.
The Staff agenda letter
The Agenda documents for the Appeal
The community powerpoint
More pontificating here.
The Appeal Packet was submitted to the County. The tentative date for the appeal before the Board of Supervisors is May, 23, 2017l.
Update 1/4/17: Jan 4, 2017 PC hearing
The Planning Commission approved the project 3 to 1, with Terry Scott, Michael Basayne, and Jeri Gill voting in favor and Anne Cottrell opposed. Heather Phillips' previous position remains unfilled.
Staff Agenda Letter
Video of the hearing
Transcript of the hearing
The planning department has confirmed the the applicant has asked for a continuance for the second day of the MPV hearing until Oct. 19th. The department's current understanding is a potential reduction in visitation numbers from 18486 visitors/yr to 14,575 visitors/yr. (Adding the 19-27 employees commuting to the site each day, the total "visitors" to the site will be 22,000/yr).
Update 7/20/16: July 20, 2016 PC hearing
The project was presented by the planning department and the applicant on 7/20/16. As Chair Basayne opened the meeting to public comments, Stu Smith barged to the front of the line to voice his law and order support given to every tourist attraction to come before the county, and then the opponents of the project spent most of the day making their opinions known. The commissioners expressed some displeasure at the amount of material added to the administrative record at the last minute but agreed that a continuance was needed to insure due process and their day of decision was continued until Aug 17th.
Staff Agenda Letter
Anthony Arger letter and dossier(35mb file)
Video of the hearing
Transcript of hearing
Neighborhood powerpoint presentation at hearing
County website's Mountain Peak page (documents)
Parcel No 032-500-033-000
Developer's Acumen Brand website
The Napa Wine Project review of Acumen (with a great drone video)
Developer's ABC license
Developer's Project Statement
County Initial Study EIR Checklist
Developer's Proposed Project PDF provided to neighbors
County's Use Permit Application and BMP checklist
Original Submission Cover Letter (2013) (and my response)
Re-submission cover letter and revised description (2015)
County's permit lookup P13-00320
County Parcel Permit History
Parcel and Winery Location Map
LMR table of 100,000gal/yr wineries
MPV vs other Soda Canyon Winery data
Traffic and Noise peer reviews 7/19/16
Trip generation from the original MPV application(now 60 visitors/day)
Crane Project Traffic Study
Crane Traffic Study figures and tables
Bartelt Road Study
Smith Traffic Peer Review
Napa County Traffic Counts
CHP 2013-14 Incidents on SCR
CHP 2013-15 trafic accidents on SCR
John McDowell, Assistant Planning Director, staff project manager
Planning Commisioners - Terry Scott, District 4 Comissioner
Board of Supervisors - Alfredo Pedroza District 4 Supervisor
Steven Reh, Owner's Representative
Donna Oldford, Community Outreach/Planning Consulltant (707-963-5832)
Architects: BAR Architects, Ray WIlson (415-293-5766)
Engineers: Bartelt Engineering, Paul Bartelt (707-258-1301)
Patch.com 2/11/20: Napa Valley Vintner From Wuhan China Donates 12K Masks
WineIndustryInsight 8/12/19: Acumen Napa Valley Appoints Mark Castoldi, Diana Schweiger
Raymond C Martinez LTE 4/23/19: It's a question of life and death
Bill Hocker LTE: 4/13/19: A decision in the face of evidence
NVR 4/2/19: Napa County opposes post-Atlas fire rehearing on Mountain Peak winery
Winebusiness.com 4/2/19: Alpha Omega Toasts Return of Winemaker Henrik Poulsen
NBBJ 3/1/18: Napa winery expands sales in California
Winebusiness.com 9/27/17: Atlas Peak residents file suit after Napa County Okays Mountain Peak Vineyards construction
NBBJ 9/8/17: Napa Valley's Acumen Wines names director of winemaking, executive manager
NVR 5/25/17: Acumen opens downtown gallery
NVR 5/25/17: Napa County approves remote, controversial Mountain Peak winery
Wines&Vines 5/15/17: A winery trend stalling?
NVR 1/14/17: Napa County Planning Commission approves Mountain Peak Winery
NVR 10/20/16: Continuances beget continuances for Napa's Mountain Peak winery project
NVR 7/21/16: Napa County grapples with remote winery proposal
Does Costco-sized winery belong atop Soda Canyon Road? NV Register
Soda Canyon winery project draws neighbors' ire NV Register
Groundwater pumping will be under county scrutiny this summer
Arger illegal tastings email
View a trip up Soda Canyon Road
Rock Crusher descending road
Dump truck decending road
Arger trip up road (part 1)
Worker caravan at the mailboxes (part 2)
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