Mountain Peak Update 10/18/14
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Bill Hocker | Oct 18, 2014

Neighbors and Friends

Glenn Schreuder has spoken with Ms. Sheveta Sharma, the planner reviewing Mountain Peak Vineyards project, and she has indicated that the MPV submission is not yet complete and that it may be next March before the planning commission gets it.

Things have slowed down considerably in the planning department since we were first alerted last March about the possibility of a large tourist event center being located on our road. Our own efforts to change the entry configuration on the project meant a resubmission on their part by which time community activism all over the valley had alerted the county, and its new planning director, that the cumulative impact of this type of development needed more thorough public scrutiny. There are currently over 25 of these projects awaiting review. The director has proposed a public forum to discuss the Winery Definition Ordinance that governs the creation of these projects, perhaps in November (now probably January), with a proposal for changes, in the spring, to be made by the wine industry "stakeholders", the 4 organizations that have worked out the previous 2 versions of the WDO. Their proposal will no doubt be influenced by tourism interests and we hope a resident "citizen stakeholder" group as well.

The planning department is also short staffed which has slowed things down and, of course, there is the aftermath of the earthquake to deal with. But things are returning to normal.

On Oct 14th one of our 2 new tourist-venues on the road, Relic Winery, applied for minor changes to its use permit and Diane Shepp, Dan McFadden, Draselle Muscatine, Cindy Grupp and I where there to show our concerns. The modification was approved. And the generator-powered "Caves" winery continues to be an annoyance to its neighbors.

Our community board continues to meet. We have engaged a lawyer, a traffic consultant, a hydrologist and a geotechnical engineer to review the project on our behalf and present findings to the commission when the time comes. Cindy, Dan, Draselle and I met with the traffic consultant after the Relic hearing for his first look at the conditions of the road.

This tuesday, Oct 21st, (see our calendar here) the appeal of the use permit granted to the Woolls Ranch tourism-winery on Mt. Veeder Rd will be heard by the Board of Supervisors. Woolls Ranch is more-or-less a sister project to MPV, a tourism venue proposed up a rural canyon road on the western watershed presenting the same traffic impacts but even more dire aquifer impacts on the Mt. Veeder community. Several of our members, the Halletts, the McFaddens, Anne Palotas and I have submitted letters when the first appeal of the project was heard in May. We encourage you to do so now as well and to show up at the hearing. The many projects that may be proposed on Soda Canyon Road in the future can only be stopped by countywide action to diminish the development trend.

Two groups, both potential allies in our campaign, have been created to oppose the massive vineyard conversion project on the south slope of Atlas Peak, Walt Ranch Vineyard Conversion. The Defenders of the East Napa Watersheds (DENW) has been formed by the Circle Oaks community that will be surrounded by the project, and various affected neighbors on Atlas Peak and Montecello Roads have formed the Watersheds Alliance for Atlas Peak (WAAP). Dan Mufson has been our principal contact. The groups, with several articulate spokespeople, show up at each PC and BOS meeting to voice their concerns during the open comments period.

There are many happenings going on around the valley in which community groups and individuals are beginning to push back against the onslaught of tourism development that will transform the rural character of the county. I have begun to link to them on knowing that the protection of the rural serenity we enjoy here will not just depend on our efforts - it is a commitment that the entire county must make together. To view the many member-only comments posted to the site, and to post comments yourself, you will have to log in (first creating a password if you don't have one already).

Bill Hocker

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