Logistics and storage facilities that support the wine industry could be coming to American Canyon’s only recreation zone, following approval by the City Council in December.
Council members adopted an ordinance on Dec. 19 amending the city’s Recreation and Open Space Zoning District, located near the wetlands, to include development standard and winery-related definitions.
The move opens the way for developers to build large warehouse type structures similar to those already in the Green Island Industrial Area, which is just north of the recreation district.
The Recreation and Open Space Zoning District consists of 106 acres that has been home to eucalyptus trees, open fields and little else, except for the longtime business, Paintball Jungle, since the city annexed the area in 2011.
Just south of the district is the Clarke Ranch parcel and residential neighborhoods. Napa Junction Elementary School is slated to move nearby as well, now that the school district has purchased 15 acres just south of Paintball Jungle.
The future presence of school children in the area worries some residents if the zoning amendment results in commercial businesses — and possibly wine tasting — off Commerce Boulevard, which runs right through the district.
“As a parent that does not sit well,” Sindy Biederman told the council. “I would be completely against” wine tasting and motorists driving on roads used by kids walking home from school.
Community Development Director Brent Cooper said the American Canyon Planning Commission, which approved the ordinance in October, had discussed the issue of potential traffic on Commerce Boulevard as well as plans by the city to force trucks to travel only north on the road and away from homes and the future school site.
Cooper also said it was “unlikely” that a wine tasting room would end up in this new development due to the area’s distance from Highway 29. Getting there from the highway would involve traveling more than a mile of circuitous roads.
Councilmember Mark Joseph, who voted against the ordinance, expressed concerns about the development plans.
He asked that two conditions be added to the plan: (1) New buildings only go up in the northern end of the district, closest to the Green Island area; (2) Traffic on Commerce Boulevard be directed north, away from the homes and future school site.
Those conditions were not embraced by his colleagues.
Interim City Manager Jason Holley said it would be unusual to put such a specific traffic condition into the municipal code.
City Attorney William Ross informed Joseph and the rest of the council that any proposed developments in the recreation district would first go before the Planning Commission.
He also noted that the council could, if it so chooses, ask to review any authorizations by the Planning Commission for this area.
The ordinance broadens the definition of a winery for the recreation 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 district more feasible for development and wouldn’t “waste” land not currently being developed, according to 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.