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An open letter to the Board of Supervisors:

You are the stewards of Napa today and our future. Supervisors, before you have had vision and stellar achievements, the most notable being the Ag Preserve. Difficult and contentious decisions were made that enabled the magic of Napa County that we enjoy today.

Napa does not have unlimited natural or financial resources. Today, it isn't easy to get approval to build a tract of homes, but vineyards, wineries and hotels continue to be built. The guidelines for growth were established years ago. Who would have thought we'd have more than 400 wineries, boundless vineyards and so many hotels with it still often difficult to find a room?

The question is how much can the Valley really support? How much water is really available to be pumped from the ground without causing harm? How many tourists can our roads and bridges support? How much growth can we support and still maintain the magic we have all come to call home? We have a General Plan, but is it still working today for our future?

If you listen to the news, you will hear of tragic water shortages in the Central Valley as a result of excessive agricultural water usage. California is finally recognizing the need to control water consumption and this is not just because of drought conditions. These are warning bells for Napa.

Please understand that I am not saying where we are today is bad or that we must change course. I am saying that we should now look to the future and re-evaluate what growth can be sustained. A blue-ribbon commission comprised or residents and experts should be created as a task force to preserve our magic for the years to come.

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There are several pending vineyard and winery projects that are being opposed by residents today. Any such project not already approved should be parked until we re-evaluate what Napa can truly support.

The choice is yours to act now or be passive. The hope is that you recognize this as your time to step up and shine. You need the vision of those before you and the perseverance to implement change. To sit back and allow unfettered growth because it meets current guidelines is potentially a grave mistake. We don't need more over-planted Coombsvilles, with residents starving for water, or St. Helena Main Street traffic jams.

Tom Vreeland

Napa

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