PUC dumps massive development

Smashing victory for SRA

Pacific Union College's president, Heather Knight, announced this week that the College has abandoned its plans for a massive development in the heart of Angwin.  The project would have increased the number of households in Angwin by 43%.

The College Board of Trustees will cancel its contract with its Seattle, Washington, developer and drop plans for the project on which it has spent million of dollars to promote.

The action is a smashing victory for Save Rural Angwin which represents the community's determination to defeat the development.  SRA had charged that the project would dramatically change the character of Angwin, which is defined as a "rural community" in Napa County's long-range General Plan.  In addition, some of it would have paved over green fields which have been farmed for decades.  Preservation of agricultural land is the prime principle in Napa County land use planning.

PUC wanted an expanded commercial zone, a retirement center and a subdivision extending into these green fields, as far as the tennis courts, barely visible at the left.  This was part of the plan now dead in the water.

Applauding the decision

"While we applaud the decision to abandon the project we will continue our work to preserve the rural character of Angwin", said Allen Spence, SRA spokesman.  "We look forward to working with PUC toward this shared goal.  In that sense, this has become a decision which is good for both the college, the Angwin community, and Napa County, and we salute Dr. Knight for bringing PUC to this new position."

SRA also recognized that Diane Dillon, supervisor for the Third District. has consistently asserted that any proposed development in Angwin must be consistent with County policies.  "Dillon's position has undoubtedly influenced the college to make this decision." Spence said.

A community looks at its future

But the credit for defeating the project belongs to SRA and the Angwin community who have been battling the college project for six years.  During that time, it built a base of more than 1,000 supporters and raised enough money to retain legal counsel, a professional planner, and an environmental consultant.  It has attended numerous public hearings and maintained continuous rapport with County planners and supervisors.  Its Advisory Council is a Who's Who among Napa County leaders.

©2010 Save Rural Angwin

John Tully, member of the SRA steering Committee, explains the work of SRA at the St. Helena Farmers Market

Three battles, all won

Save Rural Angwin's opposition to the college's ambitious plans became a series of three battle, all of which have now been won:

First, to burst the so-called "Angwin Urban Bubble," which would have enabled the developer to build 580 housing units, many of them on agricultural land.

Second, to see policies cranked into the new Napa County General Plan which would restrict college developments to those necessary for it to advance its educational mission.

Third, to defeat a plan for 270 housing units surrounding the camus, a retirement center, and an expanded commercial zone.

"These positive positions have won SRA the recognition of County officials and residents througout the county," Spence said. "We have worked long hours to achieve our goals, and Dr. Knight's announcement comes as very welcome news."

A commmunity claims its future

The most notable contribution of SRA to the village was the development of a long-range plan for the community which would preserve critical open spaces, but permit the college to serve an enlarged student body.  It envisioned a 200-acre PUC campus, larger than universities serving 20,000 students.

The PUC announcement stated that "PUC is still committed to selling land that is not currently essential to PUC's core mission."

The SRA leadership noted that reservation and believes that any future such proposal must be evaluated on two core concerns:  Any threat to the rural nature of the community and any loss of prime agricultural land.  On those the community remains adamant.

Angwin residents protested PUC's real estate proposals, probably the first time a picket line has been seen in the village.