No Palm Drive Solar in Napa
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We have been informed that a developer has recently requested a Use Permit to construct a commercial-scale solar power facility at 10 Palm Drive in the Coombsville area of Napa, California.
A commercial-scale solar power generation facility is not suitable for an Agricultural Watershed district and the Coombsville American Viticultural Area appellation. This is an example of a good idea, placed in the wrong location.
Several acres of solar panels and power stations do not belong in AW and AVA district, and will create significant negative impact on the aesthetic, scenic and environmental qualities of the area, which we hope the Planning Commission will take into consideration when reviewing this project. The large field of solar panels and the ensuing glare will be bothersome to neighbors, potentially hazardous to drivers on First Avenue, and it will destroy the scenic character and aesthetic integrity of this neighborhood.
Napa County General Plan policies AG/LU-4, AG/LU-12 and AG/LU-27 prohibit non-agricultural use of agricultural land. The Applicant argues that according to AG/LU-29, there is an exception for the development of governmental and public utilities, and that the proposed Palm Drive Solar Project falls in the category of public utility, because the Applicant intends to sell the product to Marin Clean Energy (MCE). This argument is not valid, since Renewable Properties, LLC (the Applicant) is not a governmental or public utility. Renewable Properties, LLC is a private development and investment firm. The firm’s goal, as stated on their website, is to maximize financial returns for their clients.
The Applicant and the property owners wish to develop the Palm Drive Solar Project for their personal profit, while using solar energy as their “trump” card to obtain a Use Permit. They are the only players who stand to benefit from this project, to the detriment of all other residents in the area.
The Palm Drive Solar Project is clearly inconsistent with the Community Character Element Policy (Goals CC-1, CC-2 and CC-5). Several acres of solar panels and power stations will not “preserve, improve or provide visual access to the beauty of Napa County”. There is nothing attractive about a large field of solar panels. This development is suited for an industrial or commercial area, not for a residential neighborhood.
The Applicant stated some of the solar panels will be screened from view corridors along First Avenue by residential homes and foliage. The Napa County Planning Commission has the obligation to act in the best interest of the entire community, not just a single resident (in this case, the Huss family), or in the interest of a developer (Renewable Properties, LLC). It is obvious that using existing residential homes to “hide” the unsightly and out-of-place commercial Solar Project would be detrimental to owners of the neighboring properties, and to the whole community.
The Applicant states that this commercially-sized, industrial Solar Project “is consistent with the existing character of the immediate community, as there are homes with solar panels installed on rooftops”. The Planning Commission must recognize the distinction between rooftop or even in-ground solar panels installed for private use by the owner, and the commercial/industrial nature of the Palm Drive Solar Project. It is unsettling that the Applicant would resort to such comparisons when trying to justify their own, financially-driven agenda.
The applicant proposes to remove acres of blue oaks and coast live oaks, in addition to other vegetation, and replace them with commercial-scale solar panels. The existing oak trees provide protection from stormwater runoff. Removing the trees and replacing them with solar panels increases the potential of stormwater runoff. The proposed retaining swales do not sufficiently mitigate this impact. Granting a Use Permit for this enterprise will set a legal precedent for future industrial and commercial projects in AW/AVA zones, putting at risk the aesthetic and scenic character of Napa County AVAs, thus destroying the quality of life and hurting the local economy.
The appearance, character and use of the industrial Palm Drive Solar Project is not suitable for the Coombsville AW/AVA. All residents of this neighborhood are strongly opposed to this development. Our fact-based opinions should be taken into consideration, since only the property owners (the Huss family), as well as the developer (Renewable Properties, LLC) stand to benefit from this enterprise. The project is detrimental to all other residents in the area.
It is imperative that those who are against this project sign this petition to demonstrate the widespread opposition to this proposed Coombsville Solar Factory.
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