Napa County has two new planning commissioners who will be on the front line of controversial, wine country growth issues — Kara Brunzell and Heather Phillips.
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Supervisor Joelle Gallagher nominated Brunzell to represent the 1st supervisor district. Supervisor Anne Cottrell nominated Phillips to represent the 3rd supervisor district.
Gallagher and Cottrell chose their own Planning Commission successors. Both Gallagher and Cottrell were commissioners prior to being elected to the Board of Supervisors last year and taking office in January.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors made the appointments.
The five-person Planning Commission rules on requests to build new wineries and to add visitors, space and gallonage to existing wineries, among other land use applications. It uses policies set by the Board of Supervisors.
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Phillips should have little trouble adjusting to the Planning Commission. She served on the commission for nine years before resigning in 2017. During her tenure, the commission tackled such controversial issues as the Syar quarry expansion.
She is part of Phillips Family Farming, which grows grapes at Vine Hill Ranch west of Oakville on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains. She is married to the grape grower Bruce Phillips.
“I am interested in serving on the Planning Commission as I feel that as a winegrape grower and with knowledge of the wine industry, I could provide an added perspective to the current commission,” she wrote in her application.
Cottrell said Phillips lives in the unincorporated county and it’s important to have the voice of rural residents in county decision-making.
Phillips doesn’t live in the 3rd district. But she lived in it until the recent redistricting moved the supervisor district lines and now lives about 500 yards away, Cottrell said.
Brunzell has lived in Napa County since the 1990s. She runs Brunzell Historical and is an architectural historian, according to her résumé. Among her recent tasks was evaluating the 1911 Prairie-style Monroe Ranch in Kenwood for National Register of Historic Places eligibility.
Her work in land use planning gives her a strong understanding of municipal government functions and planning regulations. And, as a homeowner and business owner, she understands the perspective of project proponents and landowners, she wrote in her application.
“I am experienced at brokering win-win compromises and as a planning commissioner would be oriented toward environmental protection, maintaining our water supply for the future, equity and maintaining an environment that allows agriculture to thrive sustainably,” she wrote.
She is married to Phil Barber, a reporter with the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
“I’m just thrilled to welcome her to the county and nominate her,” Gallagher said.
Six people applied for the two Planning Commission slots. Gallagher and Cottrell thanked all of the applicants.
Brunzell and Phillips will join Megan Dameron, Andrew Mazotti and Dave Whitmer on the Planning Commission.
PHOTOS: Mary Ellen Pleasant memorial dedication at Tulocay Cemetery in Napa
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You can reach Barry Eberling at 707-256-2253 or email@example.com