A plan to expand Napa Logistics Park into 2.3 million square feet of industrial, manufacturing, warehouse, and office space is winning praise from the American Canyon Planning Commission, even though some commissioners and project supporters acknowledge the need to address traffic and road issues stemming from the mammoth development.
The commission listened to a lengthy presentation last week by consultants hired to assess Phase II of Napa Logistics, as well as by its developer, Orchard Partners.
Based on the feedback provided by commissioners, the project appears to be in good shape when it is brought back for approval later this fall, along with the environmental impact report mandated by state environmental laws.
“This project has so many things going for it,” said Chairman Eric Altman, who cited the “diversifying employment opportunities” for American Canyon, Napa County and the surrounding counties that could come from the estimated 5,800 jobs that Napa Logistics Park might create, according to the developer.
Commissioner Ernie Zipay echoed Altman’s excitement for the project, saying the “development is incredible” and would “bring a new dynamic to American Canyon.”
While adding the project is “a great opportunity,” Zipay admitted “traffic is going to be a huge, huge impact” from so many workers pouring into and out of the area, located west of Devlin Road and south of the Napa County Airport.
The project’s environmental report included a traffic study that said the full build-out of Napa Logistics Park could generate 1,310 vehicles during the morning peak hour from 7-9 a.m. and 1,243 vehicles during the evening peak rush hour from 3-6 p.m.
Grant Gruber, a consultant with First Carbon Solutions, which was hired by the city, told commissioners that “for any land use [project], that’s a large number of trips” to be generated.
Orchard Partners’ lead man on the project, Ernie Knodel, has agreed with an idea proposed by the city for businesses that set up in Napa Logistics Park to use “off-peak shift changes” to stagger the flow of arriving and departing cars.
A staff report submitted to the commission said the use of non-traditional work shifts could cut down the projected traffic to 604 vehicles during the morning peak hour and 545 vehicles during the afternoon peak hour.
In addition to staggering the flow of cars, changes to local roadways near the project site were urged by supporters of the project.
Resident David Oro, who has participated in county discussions to improve Highway 29, told the commission during the public comment period that he’s “very eager to see the town move forward” with Napa Logistics Park.
“It will be a forward-thinking project,” said Oro, who expressed his overall support for Phase II.
He said he has two “concerns,” one of which was the need for an overpass or “sophisticated interchange” at the intersection of South Kelly Road and Highway 29, which would handle many of the vehicles generated by Napa Logistics Park.
Oro also said it was crucial for the city to speed up a planned extension of Devlin Road south so it connects with Green Island Road.
“Devlin has got to go to Green Island, and Green Island has got to go to Wetlands [Edge Road],” said Oro, otherwise “it’s a beautiful bridge to nowhere” if only the extension of Devlin is done.
He urged the commission to make sure the developer is committed to supporting these infrastructure changes.
Another project supporter, Vincent “Buzz” Butler, developer of the Napa Junction Retail Center featuring Walmart, seconded Oro’s remarks about Devlin Road.
“The Devlin extension is probably the most important part of this project,” said Butler, because the city and county need a transportation route that parallels Highway 29.
City staff have said Orchard Partners has agreed to help pay for several efforts to help ease traffic related to the project.
In addition to paying the city’s Traffic Impact Fee that finances roadway improvements in American Canyon, the developer will help pay for improving the intersection of South Kelly Road and Highway 29, including the widening of the highway to six lanes at the interchange.
Orchard Partners also has promised to make “fair share” contributions towards regional transportation improvements at Airport Boulevard and Highways 12 and 29, as well as the building of the Soscol Ferry Road Flyover Ramp.