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Letter distracted and minimized impact of conservation regulations

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Mike Hackett’s letter of March 6 (“Open Letter to voters regarding post-Measure C: Clarifications”) was a simplistic attempt to divert attention from the key issues of the proposed Watershed Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance and minimize the impact of the historic sweeping changes being rushed for consideration by the Napa County Board of Supervisors.

The county’s self-imposed urgency to pass this onerous proposal clearly demonstrates that their top priority is to approve “something” to satisfy a few at the expense of all citizens. Of greatest concern to all Napa County residents should be the fact that confusion still exists over virtually every aspect of the proposed ordinance. This all but ensures that local residents and property owners will be spending the next few years seeking expensive CEQA reviews and possible environmental impact reports to address mistakes and clarify ambiguities resulting from this hasty process.

Why the rush after a similar extreme effort was just defeated at the ballot box by local voters? Napa County’s existing Conservation Regulations to protect and preserve the environment took years to study, develop and refine. It has resulted in Napa County’s winegrape farming becoming the most regulated sector of California agriculture. The county’s own staff report states that the existing regulations have “ensured an unparalleled system of environmental protections for hillside areas and created a rural landscape” that retains the region’s natural beauty and our agricultural heritage.

This proven approach should not be abandoned just because a small group of extreme political activists continue to allege unfounded threats of water hysteria and deforestation and are not willing to compromise while threatening Napa County with another divisive initiative if they don’t get their way.

The county needs to slow this process because it is imperative that any changes to the Conservation Regulations be science- and evidence-based while allowing for thoughtful consideration and review by all parties.

Michelle Benvenuto

Napa

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