County nears vote to help clear way for Napa Pipe

NAPA COUNTY -- The 154-acre mixed use development near the city of Napa known as Napa Pipe moved a few steps closer to reality on Tuesday after the Napa County Board of Supervisors voted to close public comment and have county staff spend the next two weeks ironing out a few final details for special zoning measures that would help facilitate the project's construction.

The board also discussed the early draft of a pact with the city of Napa over the half-billion-dollar project, providing the clearest picture yet of plans to address issues like the area's eventual annexation, the city's providing of surface water and the sharing of what the developer has said is a tax windfall of up to $4 million annually.

It was the fourth time that those items had been on the board's agenda, after a swell of public comment and continued questions pushed supervisors to return the measures to staff for additional work on three separate occasions since they first went before the board on Jan. 15. The vote, which would adopt the "Napa Pipe Zoning District" designation, water supply findings and general plan changes related to the project, is now planned for a fifth meeting on the topic on June 4.

County staff were directed to include direct mention of the nearby Napa River in the zoning change, as well as a directive to prioritize the employment of area residents in the project's construction and ongoing operation.

[caption id="attachment_73831" align="alignleft" width="192"] Keith Rogal[/caption]

If approved, the zoning change and related measures would then set into motion the deeper design process that would guide the look and layout of the residential and commercial development, said Keith Rogal, co-founder of the development firm Rogal + Walsh + Mol, which purchased the site with Farallon Capital Management in 2005 as Napa Redevelopment Partners LLC.

That work could be done before the end of the year, with initial site work and environmental remediation soon after, he said.

""We're now at a stage where there's a focus on the details," Mr. Rogal said. "It's indicative of the fact that the development plan and its components, and how they've been shaped over time, have come to a good point."

The development has drawn a steady stream of public comment since it was first proposed in 2007, and has evolved significantly from a proposal that once called for 3,200 housing units on the former industrial site. The current proposal involves an approximately 70 percent reduction to those units -- now less than 1,000 housing units including 140 units of affordable housing -- a 154,000-square-foot Costco Wholesale store, a 150-unit continuing care retirement center, a 150-room hotel and other community, warehouse and office space.

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