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Walt Ranch threatens rural way of life

Walt Ranch threatens rural way of life

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The Circle Oaks Community way of life is at risk.

I have lived in Napa and been employed in Napa Valley since 1973. I have been a resident of Circle Oaks for the past four years. I was captured by a peaceful rural way of life that I found here in this unique and beautiful setting. I was drawn to the abundant wildlife that crosses our roadways and yards and keeps us in touch with the animals we share this place with. I had no idea that a devastating nightmare was about to unfold surrounding our community.

There is a property that surrounds our community on three sides that is owned by a corporation from a place called Frisco, Texas. It is known as the Hall-Brambletree corporation. Kathryn and Craig Hall say they purchased the Walt Ranch to grow a premier vineyard on it. I believe they are part of that corporation as well as many other investors who believe in land development and the money that can be made from the vineyards they develop. I do not believe, however, that they are as concerned as they say, with what their so-called neighbors think.

Facts that are taken from the Draft EIR presented to the Planning Department for approval are: 28,600 trees will be cut down, 356 acres of separate blocks of vineyards will be planted, 21 miles of roads will be built or improved, blasting will occur, huge earth-moving equipment will be brought right through one of the two main streets that run through Circle Oaks, 69 million gallons of water will be used annually, the construction of this project will be four years long.

These are all facts in the report but do not adequately address the valid concerns of the residents who will be put through the constant unrelenting noise of equipment and workers and blasting and rock grinding equipment.

I invite the investors in this project to live with myself and my family during and after the project and see if they can understand what it may feel like. Once the project is completed, the wind machines for frost protection and the blasting of sound cannons to frighten the birds who feed on the grapes and lights that will be used at night to harvest the grapes, the wind drift of chemicals from pest and mold control will live on year after year in what was a serene, peaceful, natural habitat.

The displacement of 500 acres of wildlife habitat never to be seen again is devastating. Where will the animals go? I am told of Depredation Permits that can be used to rid the vineyards of all wildlife thought to be endangering the vines regardless of age or gender. I am truly worried how all this can happen so close to a rural community and it can be said it’s in the “County General Plan” so it’s the law. Really?

Drought and deforestation not to mention hardships for a community and wildlife, have nothing to do with saying enough is enough. When will enough vineyards and enough wineries be enough? After the corporations and those who say “I’d like a piece of that,” say it is enough.

This is not just about Circle Oaks but it is also about our true neighbors on Atlas Peak and all along Monticello Road and in Napa who depend on that watershed and the wells that have been there for decades. Watersheds and our precious water will be gone when our wells run dry from overdevelopment. For what? Grapes?

The Planning Department is listening to our concerns so much that a special open forum for comments is being held Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. at 2741 Napa Valley Corporate Drive Building 2, where we can let them know that we say enough is enough. I truly appreciate the concern the county Planning Department has put forth by allowing a special open public forum.

Even with the knowledge of this public forum by the Planning Department, the Halls have invited us to their own presentation where they can use it as a means to convince us and others of all the reasons why it is OK to do all the things I have stated. I don’t understand the need. This project doesn’t make sense. I believe that even large wealthy corporations and individuals can be convinced to change their plans if enough of the citizens of a city or county voice their opposition in unity. It has been done.

I invite you to attend the meeting on Nov. 12 to hear from your neighbors and voice your opposition to this project.

Roberts lives in Napa.

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