Watson Ranch

AMERICAN CANYON — The long-awaited draft environmental impact report for Watson Ranch shows serious potential impacts from the residential and commercial project.

A “notice of availability” for the report said the project’s “probable environmental effects” include “significant and unavoidable impacts with respect to: air quality and greenhouse gas emissions, noise, and transportation and traffic.”

Chapter 4 of the report covering transportation and traffic says the project would “contribute to unacceptable traffic operations” even with the “implementation of identified mitigation measures. Impacts would be significant and unavoidable.”

The environmental report, originally planned for release at the beginning of this year, was delayed multiple times while consultants analyzed various aspects of Watson Ranch. The mammoth development calls for building more than 1,200 homes as well as a large commercial town center called the Napa Valley Ruins & Gardens at the old cement factory on the east side of town.

The draft environmental report says that significant traffic impacts could occur along Highway 29 at the intersections with Highways 12 and 221 and Soscol Ferry Road; Highway 12 and Airport Boulevard; South Kelly Road; Napa Junction Road; Eucalyptus Drive; Meadows Drive; and Fairgrounds Drive and Highway 37’s westbound ramps.

As for air quality and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), the environmental report’s executive summary says, “Operational activities associated with the proposed Project would violate air quality standards or contribute substantially to an existing or projected air quality violation, even with implementation of the identified mitigation measure. Impacts would be significant and unavoidable.”

The summary also notes Watson Ranch “would conflict with or obstruct implementation of the applicable air quality plan” even after implementing mitigation measures and “would generate GHG emissions, either directly or indirectly that exceed” certain thresholds.

The draft environmental report was officially issued on July 1. That action started a 45-day public review of the report, during which anyone can submit comments on the project via email, in writing or in person at a public hearing. The 45-day review period ends Aug. 16.

The American Canyon Planning Commission is scheduled to conduct a public workshop at City Hall on Watson Ranch at its July 28 meeting.

The Planning Commission hearing will be an information meeting only. It will not take action on the report at that time.

“The actual project hearings, when the environmental report and the Watson Ranch Specific Plan are formally reviewed and acted upon by both the Planning Commission and City Council, are currently scheduled to begin in September (Planning Commission) and October (City Council),” wrote John Wilbanks, the city’s contract planner for Watson Ranch in an email to the Eagle.

Written comments on the environmental report can be submitted until Aug. 16 to Wilbanks, care of the Community Development Department, City of American Canyon, 4381 Broadway, Suite 201, American Canyon, CA 94503.

Comments can also be emailed to JWilbanks@cityofamericancanyon.org.

Copies of the environmental report are available on the city’s website: cityofamericancanyon.org.

The report is no light read, running hundreds of pages in length that cover eight chapters and 17 appendices.

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