Dear Planning Commisioners,
The Board of Napa Vision 2050 wishes to express support for the neighbors and others who oppose the Major Modification of the Anthem Winery from a 30,000 gallon (not currently produced on site) permit to a 50,000 gallon facility with the request for accompanying visitation and events that neighbors assert would have serious, deleterious effects on the surrounding area.
A few of the issues that most concern the neighbors and Napa Vision 2050:
This is yet another winery application that requires a variance and road exceptions. We remind you of APAC Final Recommendation #1: Avoid the use of variances and road exceptions as a principal tool for achieving compliance with land use regulations. Anthem proposes to convert a 20 foot wide flagpole driveway (one that had been previously used as access for a single residence) into commercial access for the winery/event center. We feel it is important to emphasize that:
– This narrow, steep access would greatly heighten fire danger in the area. After the devastation of last year’s fires, projects should not be expanded into the hillsides where fire danger is so critical given drought conditions and climate change.
– The driveway, which will need to handle a large increase in traffic (both heavy and light) requires multiple exceptions. Additionally, the driveway passes with 30 feet of the living area of one home and 65 feet from another. This increase in commercial traffic will deny residents their right to quiet enjoyment of their property and will almost certainly cause neighbors a loss in property value.
– This access road is designed to use every inch of the deeded 20 foot flagpole driveway, yet requires large retaining walls and a one-lane bridge built over a wooded ravine. It seems this construction cannot occur without trespass on neighboring properties which have not granted approval.
– In addition to concerns about the access road, we also wish to express our concerns that the WAA is overly optimistic about the water in this area. Many, if not all, residents in this area have experienced a diminution in well performance over time and it is likely Anthem will be no exception. Anthem has drilled numerous wells and has hired a hydrologist with a record of overly optimistic analyses. Napa County can no longer afford to approve land use projects based on flawed water analyses. We believe the neighbors will provide details about wells which have gone dry permanently or for periods of time as well as those whose production has diminished significantly over time.
COMMERCIALIZATION of the AG WATERSHED and a QUIET RESIDENTIAL /AGRICULTURAL AREA
This project will include the trucking of grapes up a long one-way driveway from three other winegrowers. The current 30,000 gallons permitted cannot be produced from fruit on site even with the proposed new vineyard acreage. Furthermore, the request for tastings and late night events changes the character of the ridge from being primarily residential with vineyards to being one of commercial intensity. The permit is asking for events to last until 10 pm on weekdays and midnight on weekends – a request that, if granted, will be onerous to the neighbors especially as activity will likely be concentrated during the more tourist-heavy months of the summer and fall.
In addition, this portion of Dry Creek Road sees heavy recreational use from bikers, joggers and dog walkers during the very same seasons when the winery will cause the greatest increase in heavy truck and car traffic. Numerous charitable organizations use Dry Creek Road as a part of the route for their charitable runs, walks and bike events.
CUMULATIVE IMPACTS and PRECEDENT SETTING
We strongly advocate that the Planning Commission consider the cumulative impact of such projects on our water supply, fire danger, quality of life of residents and traffic. There is currently no winery of this size with this volume of events and visitors in the Dry Creek Road area. To permit a project with this level of activity may set a precedent that forever changes an entire piece of Napa’s rural beauty. We strongly urge you to deny this project as it is currently presented.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Board of Directors, Napa Vision 2050
Charlotte Williams, President Eve Kahn, Vice President
Kathy Felch, Vice President Cindy Grupp
Dan Mufson Gary Margadant
Jim Wilson Diane Shepp
George Caloyannidis Patricia Damery