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Watson Lane American Canyon (copy)

Properties along Watson Lane, located just outside city limits, are part of an 87-acre area that American Canyon seeks to annex. Properties fronting Watson Lane are to be prezoned as rural estate to mesh with the existing use. A  light industrial area would be to the north on the Paoli property.

American Canyon is continuing efforts to annex 87 acres on its northeast edge, in part to someday extend Newell Drive to Highway 29 and take some of the city traffic off the congested highway.

This land is north of the planned Watson Ranch, which is to have 1,250 homes, parks, a hotel, stores, a school and a town center on almost 300 acres. That kind of expected growth makes the Newell Drive extension a priority.

Newell Drive presently runs from American Canyon Road north for less than a mile. The goal is to extend the road about two miles, north past the Watson Ranch property and through the targeted annexation land, then west to Highway 29 near Green Island Road.

“Eventually, Newell Drive will provide a parallel alternative route on the east side of (Highway) 29,” says a recent Local Agency Formation Commission of Napa County growth study for the area.

Neither the annexation nor the Newell Road extension will happen overnight. The City Council on March 19 simply took another step in the journey.

The council approved a pre-annexation agreement for the 31-acre Paoli property, which is part of the 87 acres. Among other things, the owners agree to dedicate right-of-way for Newell Drive.

Land on the Paoli property would be zoned light industrial with a commercial overlay in parts nearer to Highway 29. This development would help fund a Newell Drive extension.

Other properties in the targeted 87-acre annexation area are not to have pre-annexation agreements. Those are the Watson Lane area, which has rural homes, the 3.8–acre Gonsalves property and 8.6 acres owned by Union Pacific.

“The Paoli parcel is a little more complicated and has this road dedication and has the most intensive changes in land use and so on,” Community Development Director Brent Cooper told the City Council.

More work must be done to bring the 87 acres into American Canyon borders, such as an environmental study. A tax-sharing agreement must be reached with Napa County. Then the city must submit an annexation application to the Local Agency Formation Commission of Napa County, which decides whether to approve annexations.

Additional costs to move ahead are likely $250,000 to $350,000, with a proportional share to be paid by the Paoli landowners after annexation, a city report said. The city’s upcoming 2019-20 budget will need to include the upfront expenses to move ahead with the annexation application.

The American City Council directed staff to begin work on the 87-acre annexation project in September 2017.

Someday, American Canyon and Napa County plans call for two major north-south roads running parallel to Highway 29 in and near American Canyon. Newell Drive is to be on the east side of the highway and Devlin Road on the west.

Much nearer to realization for a Highway 29 reliever route than Newell Drive is Devlin Road, which has been built in phases. Work on the final two Devlin Road segments could begin this year. Once the projects are completed, Devlin Road will run from Green Island Road to Soscol Ferry Road.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.