Napa County resident Paul Pelosi, the husband of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, has been organizing neighborhood opposition to a proposed 30,000-gallon winery project that’s planned for the corner of Silverado Trail and Zinfandel Lane near St. Helena.
The Pelosis own the property next door to the winery, which will be called Castelluci Family Winery. Paul Pelosi told the Napa County Planning Commission last week that he’s concerned about the impacts traffic to and from the winery will have on Zinfandel Lane.
The main driveway in and out of the new winery will be off of Zinfandel, and the winery planned to install a left-hand turn lane off the eastbound lane to ease access. The use permit request for the winery seeks up to 50 visitors per day and 300 weekly as well as marketing events.
The Planning Commission was scheduled to vote on the use permit May 7, but opted to delay it another two weeks, to May 21, so the Castellucis and their attorney, Rob Anglin, could work out problems with the Pelosis and neighbors, as well as analyze using a driveway on Silverado Trail for visitor and tourist traffic.
The winery’s plans don’t call for using the Silverado driveway for winery access, as there’s also a residence on the property.
Anglin said he didn’t want to have the project’s permit delayed, but his clients were willing to accept it to work with the neighbors.
“We’re not excited about the prospect for continuance because we’re excited about the project,” Anglin said. “We’re almost there but we’re not quite there.”
Paul Pelosi asked for a month delay so he could hire a traffic engineer to perform new analysis of the winery’s plans and its impacts on traffic, but the commissioners rebuffed the request, saying two weeks was enough.
Pelosi said neither he nor his attorney has received documents and information they requested regarding their concerns. He’s been sending out letters to neighbors on Zinfandel to alert them to the project, he told the commissioners.
“I have not gotten any information whatsoever regarding the issues that I have raised or that my attorney has raised,” Paul Pelosi said. “I find that there is a lot of interest in this issue by people in the neighborhood. Nobody knew anything about it. We don’t have any information yet.”
But Commissioner Terry Scott said delaying a decision on the project’s permit — it was already delayed once in April — would amount to giving the neighbors special treatment.
“To delay this any further against the applicant’s wishes would be against our standard operating procedures,” Scott said.
In another action, the commissioners did vote to approve a 24,000-gallon winery to be built off Silverado Trail near the intersection of Deer Park Road that will be called Titus Vineyards and Winery.
They expressed concerns that the winery’s visitation and marketing plans were too large given the winery’s small production size. The developers sought a maximum of 60 visitors per day plus special events, but ultimately agreed to reduce that to 40 visitors daily and a maximum of 200 each week, plus special events.
Some commissioners said increased winery visitation requests, part of the increased reliance on direct-to-consumer sales in the Napa Valley wine industry, continues to raise problems of related impacts such as worsening traffic. They also questioned if they were straying from the intent of the Winery Definition Ordinance, a landmark 1990 county ordinance that mandates wineries maintain a connection to agriculture.
“Market conditions have changed faster than long-standing land-use policies at the county have been able to adapt,” Commissioner Matt Pope said. “It’s a new world, and I don’t think it’s the one the WDO anticipated 24 years ago.”
But Commissioner Mike Basayne said resolving these issues should be done at a policy level, which would require consulting with the Napa County Board of Supervisors. The Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors will be hosting a joint meeting May 22.
“I am not prepared to make this application the poster child for the tipping point for direct-to-consumer,” Basayne said. “The numbers continue to be more and more aggressive.”
The Planning Commission also delayed action on a request to complete build-out of a mixed-use development project on Devlin Road and Airport Boulevard for another month. The projects developers need to work out a new agreement on water service with the city of American Canyon.
The project features the 100-room Springhill Suites hotel, which is seeking a 60-room expansion, and its developers want to build 64,000-square-feet of office, retail and restaurant space on a 12-acre site.
The project’s developer got approval for water service from the city of American Canyon last fall, but City Attorney Bill Ross told the commission it has to reconsider that agreement in light of the city’s water shortage due to the ongoing drought in California.
“The long and the short of it is, this is not November of 2013,” Ross said, referring to the timing of the original agreement. “It’s a completely changed world. We feel there has to be further review.”
William Maston, the project’s architect, said the project wouldn’t result in a net increase in water usage, and was within the confines of its water allotment from the city, which dates to 2006. The project was originally planned and approved in 2006, but only the 100-room hotel was built. The original plans called for 94,000-square-feet of space for the additional uses.
“It will be interesting to see what concerns they have to share,” Maston said of meeting with city officials. “There is no net increase in water usage.”
But Ross said the project speaks to a broader issue with which American Canyon is grappling — how to accommodate industrial or commercial expansion in the airport area while serving its existing customer base in a severe drought year.
“It’s not this property — it’s every project in our water service area,” Ross said.