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The March 1 edition of the Napa Valley Register carried the headline “Vine Trail solution found.” The body of the article explained that a main problem of the Trail -- that property owners were reluctant to provide rights of way because of their apprehensions about lawsuits arising out of injury to trail travelers – had been solved.

The solution is that the county would assume the rights of way and would take out and pay for insurance to cover the land owners. This requires a vote of the supervisors and is scheduled for sometime this month. Thus, the county is converting, in one or more instances, agricultural land into the Vine Trail. A specific instance is along Ehlers Lane, where the Vine Trail traverses the south part of DeConnick's vineyard on a new 700-foot road from Ehlers Lane to Highway 29. The Register article asserts the county needs to be the holder of all easements because recreation trails are not allowed on private land in the ag preserve. The county is not subject to its own zoning ordinance and can make an exception for the easements.

I do not believe that the county can make an exception to Measure J, which was enacted by the voters of Napa County in 1990 and further extended to 2058 by Measure P.

The Measure J text argument in favor states, “If we want to keep our scenic mountains and farmlands, we must prevent the rezoning of agricultural lands by the vote of any three supervisors. Measure J ...will simply guarantee that any change from agricultural to other uses must be voted upon by the people of Napa County.”

Measure J contains three pages of text, and I invite all to get a copy and read it. Clearly, the text and intent of Measure J is to prevent the supervisors from altering the zoning to enable non-farming use of the Ag Preserve lands.

George G. Watson

St. Helena

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