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Many Voices Expected at Napa Pipe Hearing

Napa County's planning commission meets in special public session tonight at 6 p.m. at Napa Valley College to weigh the future of an ambitious mixed-use development proposal for the former Napa Pipe industrial site just south of the city.

Members of the Napa County Conservation, Development and Planning Commission can expect to hear a lot of public comment at the special commission meeting tonight at , held to discuss the proposed Napa Pipe development.

A similar meeting last month drew about 150 people to the and many of them had comments and questions about the recently-completed environmental impact report for the 154-acre property, where developers propose to build more than 2,000 apartments with nearby retail and office spaces at the former industrial site on the Napa River.

Why some like Napa Pipe

The proposal is acclaimed by some for its New Urbanist design, which emphasizes walkable neighborhoods with nearby services and public transportation—a combination supporters say would help cut down on the region's worsening traffic by reducing the need for car trips outside the development.

But many Napans are strongly opposed to the prospect.

Why some dislike it

Slow-growth advocates and many Napa city dwellers—including members of the city council—see the concept as a form of urban sprawl that would saddle the city with an unwanted suburb.

According to the , there is also a growing movement to forestall residential development in order to keep the waterfront site available for renewed industrial use.

Local anti-sprawl advocates and the  oppose the development proposal as well, for reasons including population density and the use of groundwater.

Who gets heard at tonight's meeting?

At the commission's Feb. 21 special public meeting, Napa residents were not allowed to address the developer, commission members or county planning staff directly: Instead, they were required to hand-write their remarks on cards that were then read aloud by planning commission chair Michael Basayne.

This practice led to a who said the county may have violated state open meeting laws by imposing the comment card restrictions after posting an agenda that said comments could be made verbally.

At tonight's meeting, people will be allowed to pose their questions and comments aloud, according to the agenda:

If you wish to speak on an item on the Agenda and under discussion by the Commission, you may do so upon receiving recognition from the Chairperson. After being recognized by the Chairperson, please step to one of the microphones and state your name and address and make your presentation. No comment or testimony shall be shouted from the audience.

However, the agenda prohibits addressing comments or questions to the developer or county staff:

All comments are to be directed to the Commission, including inquiries requiring staff response. Time limitations shall be at the discretion of the Chair or Commission.

Tonight's special meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Little Theater, Building 1200 at .

The developer's slide show from the Feb. 21 meeting accompanies this article.

For more about the Napa Pipe development, including Michael Haley's traffic analysis and links to other reporting, please see our Napa Pipe topic page at napa.patch.com/topics/Napa-Pipe.

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