More than a few of us were surprised and disappointed that the "lame duck" St. Helena City Council voted last week to reapprove the Davies Winery project ("St. Helena City Council reaffirms winery decision," Nov. 29).
In the recent election, the people voted out of office every council person that they could, along with the mayor. Surely there were other issues involved, but their Davies approval votes must have factored in the ouster of these people. This re-approval is particularly sad given the real questions about the adequacy of public comment and the legality of council action approving the permit modifications made in this last application.
New hospitality events for more than 60,000 people annually concentrating visitor traffic in the already over-congested Highway 29 south of St. Helena is simply too much.
The people of Napa County are not happy with what is going on with winery visitation development. Yountville Hill, Raymond, Castelucci, Mt. Veeder and this Davies application opposition is proof positive of that fact. Given this unhappiness, change will occur. It can come from the bottom or the top. This fall's election created change from the bottom. It's time for the councilmen at the top to listen.
Nothing personal. The Davies project is simply the wrong project in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is not about grapes or wineries. It is about our environment, traffic and water supplies.
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This project seems to be only about what is good for the applicant when it should also be importantly about what is good for our community. It is basically a hospitality facility that does little to protect or preserve agriculture but adds significantly to our already impossible traffic situation in St. Helena.
The city of St. Helena, like the City of Napa, has and continues to act as an independent "fiefdom," uncoordinated and unconcerned about county-wide problems. The hospitality employees and visitor traffic of these hospitality facilities, like the Davies project, makes visiting our valley must less pleasant than it should be. This hospitality facility traffic discourages visitors to our established estate and mid-size wineries with reasonable visitation programs.
The elected officials of both the city and the county need to adopt a "one Napa" strategy where the concerns of both the city and the county and the "community good" of all Napans is considered in any new development projects. We need to stop the cars in the city of Napa to support their revitalization program and abate the traffic situation up valley. We don't need more traffic and congestion in St. Helena.