An open letter to St. Helena officials: I am a resident of Napa County and have read with great interest the newspaper articles in the Napa Valley Register and the St. Helena Star regarding the application by Davies Family Winery for a hospitality/wine center in downtown St. Helena ("Davies winery opponents sue St. Helena," Jan 8).
The proposed project is located on or near the major downtown streets and is in close proximity to schools with heavy student and automobile traffic. A lawsuit by a number of local citizens raises significant legal issues pertaining to the safety of the local citizenry and in clear disregard of various state and local laws and regulations (and their intent), including those concerning the environmental impacts of such a project.
It appears that little or no consideration was given to these important issues by the St. Helena Planning Commission and the majority of the most recent City Council members (excluding the newly elected mayor and council member Paul Dohring) and the clear inference to be drawn from the litigation and the media is that the project was approved hastily and was not based on appropriate and necessary input from the general public.
Although it would seem that the decisions approving the project should be reversed and rejected out-of-hand, the petitioners in the lawsuit are, at least at this point, merely asking the city's decision-makers to require the project to submit to, and implement, a fair and objective environmental impact report and plan which considers the safety of all of St. Helena's citizens as well as the consequences of additional tourist trade and traffic on Highway 29 through Napa County.
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It is respectfully requested that the Planning Commission and City Council order a full and complete environmental impact report, rescinding the prior approval of the project, and make decisions and take actions on behalf of the citizens of Napa Valley.