American Canyon is hoping to expand its commercial sector by attracting more segments of the wine industry to an area of town that’s been largely undeveloped.
The city hopes new businesses focused on wine warehousing, distribution, bottling and more will set up shop along a section of Commerce Boulevard, just south of the Green Island Industrial District that has thrived with winery-related enterprises.
The area in question — 106 acres known as the Recreation Zoning District — has been home to eucalyptus trees, open fields and little else, except for the longtime business, Paintball Jungle.
City leaders want to see more economic activity in this district along Commerce Boulevard, and have proposed changes in local zoning definitions to encourage the logistical and storage side of wineries.
The City Council is trying “to attract and expand diverse business and employment opportunities in American Canyon,” according to Community Development Director Brent Cooper.
One way to do this, Cooper said, is “to improve the feasibility of winery uses” on empty parcels bordering Commerce Boulevard.
A proposal approved by the American Canyon Planning Commission on Oct. 26 would broaden the definition of a winery for the Recreation Zoning District to include bottling, storage, logistics, distribution and wine packing — the same types of businesses that have succeeded in the neighboring Green Island area.
The plan would also allow up to 50 percent of a parcel to house buildings, up from the current zoning limitation of only 10 percent. The 50 percent threshold would be similar to that already in use for Green Island.
This change would make the Recreation Zoning District more feasible for development and wouldn’t “waste” land not currently being developed, said Cooper.
But economic development in this area would not be entirely limited to the wine industry. Cooper said up to 25 percent of new buildings could be leased to businesses that have nothing to do with wine.
Planning Commission Chairman Eric Altman, who “reluctantly” supported the changes, expressed concerns about trying to attract more ancillary winery operations, instead of actual wineries with tasting rooms.
“So is there an intent to effectively extend the [Green Island] commercial district by allowing more of the potentially industrial warehousing type use,” Altman asked Cooper.
Cooper said “yes,” while adding: “The idea here is to facilitate economic use for the property in a winery related industry, so certainly warehousing, distribution and logistics is all part of that.”
But the zoning changes would not mean any kind of general industrial use could be established in the Recreation Zoning District, Cooper said.
He said the city wouldn’t mind attracting wineries with tasting rooms, but given the area is “kind of off the beaten path,” the city is “trying to be realistic with what’s likely to go out there.”
“So the thinking behind this recommendation is let’s broaden the uses that are winery related so that we can get some activity going on up there,” said Cooper.
The Recreation Zoning District is comprised of four parcels owned by two different landowners.
One landowner, Stravinski Development Group, which has built multiple warehouses in the Green Island area, said it supports the zoning changes because it will help them develop their two parcels.
“We’re supportive because we think it’s the right thing to do,” said Carl Motschiedler with Stravinski Development Group.
Without the changes, he said, “It would be very very difficult for us to develop and finance businesses on that property” in the Recreation Zoning District.
Motschiedler said his firm will also support the city in making sure any truck traffic from new businesses would travel north on Commerce Boulevard and into the Green Island area — and not south along the road towards nearby homes.
Representatives of the district’s other landowner, The Robert L. Couch Jr. Trust, which owns the paintball site, was less certain about the benefits of developing the area.
George Couch said his family has endured poor treatment from the city and “other entities out there” in the past. He asked to meet with Cooper to discuss the proposed changes.
Another family member, Glen Couch, told the Planning Commission that new businesses could generate more cars that might impact their interests.
“Once more traffic comes in there, it’s going to be a bigger issue for us,” he said.