AMERICAN CANYON — An enormous business development project is moving forward in American Canyon with the blessing of city planners and politicians who approved its environmental review despite serious potential impacts on traffic.
The second phase of Napa Logistics Park, to be built on the west side of town near South Kelly Road, would entail the addition of four huge buildings covering 2.2 million square feet of warehousing and manufacturing space in the city’s commercial sector.
The project’s first phase — a single building of 646,000 square feet, or nearly 15 acres — is currently under construction and is scheduled to open for business by the beginning of next year.
An environmental impact report prepared for Phase 2 concluded the project would generate so many cars and trucks on local streets and Highway 29 that the City Council had to adopt a resolution that included “Findings of Overriding Consideration” to certify the environmental report.
In their own report, city staffers informed the council that even with the proposed ways to reduce traffic, Napa Logistics Park Phase 2 would have “significant and unavoidable” impacts.
A traffic study concluded the new business park would generate 1,310 vehicles during peak morning commute time and 1,243 vehicles during the afternoon peak.
“There are situations here that are beyond mitigation,” City Attorney William Ross told council members on Dec. 15 to explain why they were being asked to approve overriding considerations for the project.
The council unanimously approved the resolution certifying the environmental report and a conditional use permit for Phase 2 immediately after the Planning Commission, which was meeting jointly with the council, gave its own approval.
The project’s developer, Orchard Partners, has promised the city that it will bring in businesses that agree to use a variety of work shifts for employees to reduce the number of vehicles coming and going from the business park at peak traffic times.
The use of a travel demand management program is projected to ensure that trip generation does not exceed 780 vehicles during the morning peak hour and 704 vehicles during the afternoon peak hour, according to the staff report.
Additionally, Orchard Partners agreed to help fund another important traffic reduction effort — the extension of Devlin Road, which city and county leaders see as a potential bypass to alleviate some of the congestion on Highway 29 between the city of Napa and American Canyon.
American Canyon’s portion of the Devlin Road extension is estimated to cost $4.7 million. Orchard Partners has said it will pay this amount so that construction can take place to connect Devlin to Green Island Road.
Public Works Director Jason Holley noted that even if American Canyon builds its portion of Devlin, the county will have to build a section that lies outside of the city and will cross Fagen Creek so motorists can travel from Soscol Ferry Road to Green Island without getting onto the highway.
Council members and business supporters of Phase 2 said the Devlin extension was critical to the success of the project.
Vincent “Buzz” Butler, developer of the Napa Junction retail center, called the connecting of Devlin “the single most important part of this project.”
Likewise, Councilmember Mark Joseph called the extension “essential,” while Vice Mayor Kenneth Leary said it would be a “very important link” to reduce some of the traffic on Highway 29.
Joseph added that the city could moderate more of the traffic generated by Napa Logistics Park Phase 2 if it eventually builds Watson Ranch, which is proposed to build 1,250 new homes on the east side of American Canyon. Adding those homes could produce employees for the business park, instead of drawing people in from outside the city.
“If we synchronize things,” said Joseph, “a lot of the traffic patterns could be east-west and not north-south.”
The city still must review and approve the environmental report for Watson Ranch, which won’t be ready until early next year.