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Monday, August 30, 2010, 6:44 am

School land, water source among new Napa Pipe elements

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    Napa Pipe village rendering

    An architectural rendering of the Napa Pipe mixed-use development.

    NAPA – The developers of Napa Pipe have agreed to several additions to the proposed mixed-use neighborhood project including donating 10 acres for a school and a shift from groundwater to surface water for residents.

    The changes will be released in a supplemental Environmental Impact Report this fall.

    In November of last year after four years of planning and working toward answering questions that were expected to be brought up about the proposed Napa Pipe development, an EIR was submitted for public review.

    “This is a contender for the most analysis on a project in the county of Napa,” developer Keith Rogal said at the time.

    Now, after almost another year, steps are being taken to deal with more of the issues brought forth.

    Napa County supervisors Mark Luce and Keith Caldwell, as well as county staff, have agreed to pursue some changes to the development proposal.

    “We have made no commitment to the developer for any specific number of units,” Mr. Caldwell said, “but the property owner has agreed that there are some changes to the project that could eliminate some obstacles before we even get to the public hearing process. Then the planning commission and the board will be able to focus on the basics: the land use, the number of units, traffic, other potential impacts and mitigation.”

    Ten acres have been set aside for an elementary school if Napa Valley Unified School District deems it necessary. The site is adjacent to Napa Pipe and will have the capacity to serve roughly 300 students. It will be walkable from Napa Pipe and would serve south Napa County.

    There are studies being done to explore the possibility of bringing in surface water rather than groundwater as the primary source for the residents. The county is doing a review to see if there is the possibility of bringing in water from the delta.

    “We acquired long-term options on water rights from the Sacramento River Delta, water which previously was used for flood irrigation.  We have massive, well-documented groundwater reserves, far in excess of what would be used by the project, but we had also purchased these surface water rights as an alternative source of supply. The county is now reviewing the surface water option to confirm that their use would have no significant, adverse environmental impacts, were we to use them as our primary source of supply,” said Mr. Rogal.

    It was also agreed that on-site wastewater treatment will be considered as an alternative to Napa Sanitation District service only if the treated wastewater is used as recycled water for irrigation purposes both on- and off-site, with no discharge to the Napa River.

    “We will have to prepare a supplement to the draft EIR and make it available for public and agency review before we can finalize the EIR and notice the project for hearings at the planning commission and the board,” said Hillary Gitelman, director of planning for the county. “If we are efficient, the first public hearing will only be delayed three months until January. June 2011 is our deadline for rezoning at least a portion of the site for housing based on the Housing Element that the Board adopted in June 2009.”

    Mr. Caldwell said, “Extending the review process is the right thing to do. … The changes we’re talking about are things that need to be considered.”

    If after the supplemental EIR is circulated and the project is approved, the development agreement would take place and then site remediation would begin. That would take two years. Then the build-out would be in phases, said Mr. Rogal. The initial phase would be 200 to 300 units over the course of the next 10 years.

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